The Sushiholic

Smart Choice Restaurant & Food Lovers

Great Chef

Steve Goff of Jargon talks about the upside of failure

ASHEVILLE – The trajectory of Steve Goff’s career — from homeless dishwasher to lauded executive chef — is as unlikely as it is a great story.

Once a train-hopping gutter punk, Goff stopped along the way in Asheville in 2003 to protest for gay rights.

A conspicuous target with his pink, leopard spotted mohawk, Goff was apprehended at the protest and eventually pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct. Though he kept trying to leave Asheville after that inauspicious start, he never could seem to escape. 

Meanwhile, he slept in the woods off Charlotte Street, across from a building that would eventually change his life. 

Three months later, Goff heard from a man on the street that Zambra was hiring a dishwasher. That man knew because he had stepped out for a smoke during a grueling shift and never returned. 

Goff, who had experience working in corporate restaurants, scoffed. “I said, ‘No dog, this isn’t washing dishes at your house,’ and I came and applied.”

Zambra’s chef was reluctant at the time because Goff’s experience was exclusively in corporate restaurants.