A Petaluma native, Austin Perkins grew up enjoying the West Marin coast, its natural beauty and abundant farm produce. Raised in a family where his father was the culinary patriarch, Perkins learned an appreciation of food from a young age, often cooking with his father on a variety of pastas, stews, steaks, chicken and experimental sauces.
This foundation extends into his current cooking philosophy where now he can't imagine himself as anything other than a chef. "I like to keep it simple and let the natural flavor of each ingredient do the talking," he said. "Minimally manicured dishes that are delicious, seasonal and comforting are what I'm most excited about."
Executive Chef of Nick's Cove, since August 2011, Perkins creates the finest seasonal, sustainable California cuisine sourced from the area's abundant farms in Marin and Sonoma County as well as fresh seafood and Tomales Bay oysters year-round. Since joining the restaurant in 2008, working his way up to the role of Executive Sous Chef, he has built many relationships with the area farmers, sourcing ingredients for the menu such as fresh cheese from Cowgirl Creamery in Pt. Reyes and veal from Rossotti Ranch. His menu of seasonally-changing dishes ranges from seafood classics such as the signature Clam Chowder with applewood smoked bacon and the Original Tomales Bay BBQ's Oysters with housemade BBQ sauce and garlic-parsley butter, to comforting dishes such as the Bolognese with veal, port, pancetta and spaghettini; Roasted Marrow Bones with tomato jam and pine nuts; and the Stuffed Quail with brioche, mascarpone, quail egg, lavender and pesto. His dedication extends beyond the daily-changing menu, with ongoing winemakers' dinners and other special events highlighting local vintners and farmers.
"I love the diversity our area offers and enjoy creating a variety of dishes at Nick's Cove that capture the essence of what farm-to-table cuisine is all about," said Perkins.
Prior to Nick's Cove, Perkins worked at the the two-Michelin-starred Cyrus restaurant in Healdsburg, Calif., where he worked under Executive Chef Douglas Keane. He graduated from Tante Marie's Cooking School in San Francisco in 2007.
When he's not in the kitchen, he enjoys woodworking, boating, golf, sports and fine wine. He lives in Petaluma with his girlfriend, Ashley and their puppy, Wilson.