James grew up on a 50 acre horse farm near the Salinas Valley. His great grandfather emigrated from Yugoslavia into the Central Valley and started an apple farm. His grandfather later moved to the very fertile Salinas Valley and started one of the first produce companies. It was called Sun Harvest. My mother raised us mostly on local fruits and vegetables though there was still the occasional cooking “out of a can” given the generation. Canned beets! The one thing we always had was a bowl of fresh fruit, cut up and put into a bowl for us before we went to bed.
James earned a masters in Spanish literature and linguistics through Middlebury College and lived in Spain for two years. He later entered into the technology business and worked at various advertising agencies in San Francisco over a 12 year period. Along the way he started cooking as "therapy" for his corporate day job. CookWithJames was created 15 years ago as an underground supper club. James would prepare multiple course regional Italian and Spanish dinners in his home for guests and friends. James staged at Quince restaurant after they opened in 2004, and has also lived and cooked in both Italy and Spain. After leaving his day job in advertising in 2009 James launched CookWithJames as a full-time business, offering private sit-down dinners as well as cooking class parties for all occasions. To learn more visit CookWithJames.com.
James was also the official food columnist for the Nob Hill Gazette (NobHillGazette.com) from 2011 - 2018, covering the Bay Area and beyond.