Joshua Kemper

Chef Owner


Joshua Kemper was born in Bryan, Texas on a grill. Shortly thereafter his parents moved to Berkeley where he became a proud Berkeley High graduate. Never one to shy from work he started his career in food on a fishing boat at the tender age of 14. By 18 he had become a dishwasher and developed a love of cooking. He graduated from the culinary arts program at DVC College in Walnut Creek. Quickly working his way through the ranks, he became one of the youngest Sheraton Banquet Chefs by the age of 22. Soon his career went international, opening restaurants for hotels in Thailand, India, and Australia. He was Executive Chef working with a staff of over 50 by the age of 26. Praised for his beautiful presentations and flare for grilling, he flourished at 5-star resorts such as Le Royal Meridian and the Taj Lands’ End. After working abroad for over 10 years alongside celebrity chefs such as Michele Nischan, and Morimoto he decided to come home and try his luck with American BBQ.
Josh’s time abroad gave him a real appreciation for everything American. Traditional BBQ is unknown throughout the rest of the world. As an American chef, he was constantly facing the derision of his European peers. “What can Americans cook? Hamburgers?” Digging deep to his Texas roots and being born on a grill, he didn’t cook burgers, he cooked the Q! Nobody had ever seen anything like it. “It took some time convincing the hotel butcher that I wanted the ribs over the tenderloin.” “But we just throw those things away are you sure that’s what you want?” Eventually it was decided that when it comes to cooking pork, Americans are the masters.
Now that he’s home, his mission is to bring the classic American Q-House to the Bay Area with panache. “Serving good, affordable, traditional food in a friendly communal atmosphere is what it’s all about. Smokey J's is a place for friends and neighbors to meet and enjoy a small slice of Americana. Everything from our sausages to the sauces is all made in house. All of our meat is top quality and cooked fresh daily in the smoker out back.”