Meet Head Chef Taylor Smith
Taylor Smith grew up in a small rural town in the middle of nowhere in Northern California. Community, good friends and great food were central in his life. In the shadow of Mt. Lassen, his family and friends held and attended crab feeds, apple festivals and gala New Year’s lunches. During high school, Taylor worked nights and weekends, summers and then full-time at the local diner, run by a very talented chef skilled at cooking soul food. He got his start peeling potatoes and chopping vegetables (just as any apprentice would) and worked his way up to creating inventive recipes.
After several years of working in various kitchens, he finished his apprentice training under the great chef Jason Arbusto. Chef Arbusto opened his eyes to a world of modern cuisine. Alongside Arbusto, Taylor refined his own tastes and particular style. He learned to hold on to his roots, while pushing out of his comfort zone.
Taylor found his way to fine restaurants in San Francisco without leaving behind what he learned in the country. He’s joined Jasper’s Corner Tap and Kitchen to bring freshness to the menu and enthusiasm to the team. Chef Taylor says, “The southern cuisine of my childhood always permeates my thinking. The innovation of modern Provencal French cookery constantly pushes me to explore new ideas – to fuse cultures and create true California comfort food.”
Meet Jasper’s Head Mixologist
Steve Middler began his career in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania studying at The Pennsylvania Culinary Institute. After graduation, Steve became the Executive Chef for Giant Eagle of Johnstown. He headed up a new concept called “Express Gourmet.” After four years of success, Middler founded Central Avenue Café. The 75-seat restaurant was owned and operated by Middler from 1997 to 2001. After selling his restaurant, he accepted the position of Sous Chef for Bubba Gump Shrimp Company in Monterey, California and then Pier 39 in San Francisco.
During his time in the culinary arena, Middler developed a passion for interacting with guests. He was determined to work his way into a career that put him in direct contact with guests, allowing his people skills to shine. Bartending became his position of choice for that reason. Middler chose to work with Kimpton Hotels at Café Pescatore as a bartender so he could have the opportunity to be creative and still continue to work with management and the owners.
During his tenure, he worked for three Kimpton properties: The Sir Francis Drake (Scala’s), the Tuscan Inn (Café Pescatore) and The Argonaut Hotel (Blue Mermaid). As he was working in Scala’s, he had the opportunity to meet Chef Donna Scala and was offered a position at Bistro Don Giovanni’s in Napa as a bartender and server. Napa was an eye-opening experience for Middler. He began to gain knowledge, experience and understanding of wine, fine dining, and classic cocktails made with fresh ingredients. While working with Don Giovanni’s, he was offered a position to assist Chef Michael Chiarello in the opening of Bottega in Yountville. After three months, Chef Chiarello offered him the lead bartender position. In this way, Middler became the face of Bottega Bar.
As the downtown Napa restaurant scene started to grow, Chef Masaharu Morimoto rose in prominence. Middler accepted Morimoto’s offer to open and implement his bar program in downtown Napa. Middler was responsible for development of a new craft cocktail, “Vibe.” He also had the opportunity to collaborate with Mixologist Naren Young from New York and open Fagiani’s at The Thomas in downtown Napa. Middler’s zest for continued knowledge wouldn’t let him slow down. He opened Hakkasan, San Francisco and also worked with Ashley Miller who is now the lead bartender of Alta, in San Francisco.
Steve Middler’s journey has brought him now to Jasper’s Corner Tap & Kitchen as lead Mixologist. He intends to bring his years of experience and fresh ingredient-driven cocktail style to our restaurant, while keeping to the San Francisco tradition of small batch libations.
The Legend of Jasper O'Farrell
Jasper’s Corner Tap & Kitchen is home and namesake to Jasper O’Farrell, the man who named and built such streets of San Francisco as Market, Lombard, Pine and O’Farrell. For all intents, he largely constructed the city as we currently know it today.
Jasper was an Irish immigrant with a grand view of what this City by the Bay could be. A social man, he wanted to create a wondrous promenade that would bring the city together around trade, commerce, meals, and most importantly, drink! It is in the spirit of this remarkable innovator that we named Jasper’s, with the inspiration of creating something worth bringing the streets of San Francisco together over once again. Join us this St. Patrick’s Day in raising a glass to this amazing city and one of the brave Irish pioneers who helped sculpt it!