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Since a young age, Chef James Ausem could be found in the kitchen alongside his father. Those great memories and time spent in Puerto Rico as a child are the primary forces behind his cooking. Growing up in an eclectic family exposed him to various cultures and foods but his greatest influence came from his Italian background. Raised in a home by an Italian mother and stepfather helped establish his cooking style and preferred flavors, but Chef Ausem's menu inspiration also comes from extensive travels through the Caribbean. These two influences collide in his kitchen, making for an unlikely, yet unique and refreshing culinary perspective.
Chef Ausem began his career in Las Vegas, continuously learned as he held various kitchen positions in different restaurants. His fascination with snowboarding took him to Toscanini at Beaver Creek in Colorado. With no formal training or fine dining experience but a will to succeed, he quickly learned the art behind fine dining. From there, he worked as Sous Chef at our Destination Hotels & Resorts sister property Vail Cascade in Colorado, the Hard Rock Hotel in downtown San Diego, and a seven-year stint at the Prado in Balboa Park, where he met his key mentor Chef Jeff Thurston.
Now the General Manager and Chef at the legendary Barefoot Bar & Grill, Chef Ausem enjoys the full control and creative freedom these joint titles give him. When he's not in the kitchen or touching tables on the San Diego waterfront restaurant's bayside deck, he enjoys spending his time around the ocean and partaking in various water sports. Always looking to progress, he hopes to someday open his own restaurant.
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