Over 10 years ago, Jeff Margaretten was invited to a make-your-own sushi party. Armed with fresh fish, he hopped in the kitchen and started rolling, sparking a personal quest to make the perfect sushi roll.
From that day on, the architect who lives on 30A started hunkering down in friends’ kitchens for parties, sipping sake and rolling sushi until they could eat no more. He loved it, and the party guests seemed to love it, too.
One day a friend told him about a party and offered to pay him to come do his sushi thing. “I thought that was the coolest,” he said.
Recently, the now-47-year-old decided to take his passion professional. Sushi by Jeff brings customized sushi parties to people’s homes or special event venues, and Margaretten couldn’t be happier.
“Sushi isn’t my day job and because of that I’ve allowed this to grow at a very grassroots kind of level. I haven’t had that pressure to need to make it successful fast,” he said. “I’ve just let this party thing grow at its own natural pace for the last five years and every year it gets a little bit bigger. I really enjoy that aspect of it and it’s a wonderful escape.
I get to go some place and make somebody happy and get a whole party to go ‘Oh my gosh, we’ve never done this before.’ It’s really fulfilling.
To ramp up his craft, Margaretten spent a few years as the sushi chef at Crush in Seaside, which he said really helped him grow and become even more creative in the kitchen. Now, he’s focused on expanding his private catering events because he’s having so much fun.
Sushi by Jeff can cater to any party needs, but his most popular offering is his all-you-can-eat dinners. When I come over we are going to eat sushi until you can eat no more,” Margaretten said. “I’ve never been out-eaten, I will always have enough.
He puts out a big buffet to start, but after the first round is finished, that’s when the real fun starts. “I’m still in the kitchen and I’ll ask what they want me to make. You are getting a private chef to come out and just roll for you. That’s the dinner party.”
He noted that he can also prepare a fixed spread for cocktail parties, art shows, open houses. “The possibilites are endless,” he said.
He’s had some incredible moments on the job, one of his favorites has been getting to know a big extended family in WaterColor that calls him every time they come down to visit. Each time he gets to know them more, and more of them, which has been a really fun experience.
Then, there was his largest gig, the VIP tent for this year’s 30A Songwriters Festival at Gulf Place, when he was asked to prepare some rolls to send backstage to headlining artist Graham Nash.
“He signed my menu for me,” Margaretten said. “That was pretty cool.”