Growing up, Chef James Liles was influenced by his family's roots in New Orleans, Louisiana and Lynchburg, Tennessee. He spent his youth farming, hunting deer, turkeys and rabbits, and fishing for catfish and bass. Liles’ cooking career began while working at Commander's Palace and The Bourbon House, restaurants owned by New Orleans culinary legends, the Brennan Family. He spent his early years mastering French/Creole cuisine and learning that food is more than sustenance; it’s tradition.
While pursuing his dreams, Liles trained at the United States Air Force Culinary Academy, where he refined his techniques and earned the opportunity to train and work around the globe. Once returning home in 2008, James embarked on his civilian culinary journey and landed in Atlanta, where he focused on varieties of southern cooking. In 2013, Liles brought his talents to the West Coast as the head chef for the Oakland Raiders. While working with the Raiders, Liles was preparing meals for athletes, and had to adapt to a whole new style of cooking. “The Raiders diet consisted of wide variety of composed menus, focusing on sustainable organic products. Calories were always being counted. Everything was measured.”
After three years with the Oakland Raiders and with the team relocating to Las Vegas, Liles was once again “a free agent.” His latest gastronomic excursion is with Coin-Op Game Room in San Francisco's SoMa neighborhood. At Coin-Op, James aims to “source it fresh, prepare it well, and above all, have fundamental culinary integrity.” His menu choices are driven by what is available at market and he continually looks to collaborate local farmers for his kitchen.