JOSIE | Los Angeles
As a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America and UC
Santa Cruz, Jill Davie has won accolades from the press, her schools
and everyone who has had the pleasure of experiencing her food.
Davie was presented with the Food and Wine Baby Chef Award
by Julia Child just out of school in 1996, and was on her way to
a stellar career.
During culinary school Chef Davie did her externship from C.I.A.
at LuLu in San Francisco under Jody Denton and Reed Hearon,
and within a year of graduating, she had secured a position as chef
de cuisine for Hans Rockenwagner at his eponymous restaurant. In
the three years that she worked for Rockenwagner, Davie was in Art
Culinaire, Food Arts and Gourmet magazines. Before moving on
to her current position at Josie, Davie traveled to Chicago
to work as a visiting chef at Tru, Blackbird and
Since its inception in 2000, Davie has worked side by side with
chef Josie Le Balch at her award-winning restaurant in Santa Monica.
From the start, the pairing of Davie’s culinary style, her
passionate devotion to local farmer’s markets and Le Balch’s
rustic approach has lofted their restaurant to the forefront of
the fine dining scene in Los Angeles. In 2003, Davie became Josie’s
chef de cuisine. They have been featured in numerous articles, including
USA Today’s “Top New Restaurant Picks”
and as one of the “Best New Restaurants 2001” by Esquire
critic John Mariani. Davie was also featured on the Food Network
show “Date Plate”.
AB: Did you attend culinary
school? Would you recommend culinary school to aspiring chefs today?
JD: The Culinary Institute
of America for me was a really fantastic thing and seemingly the
fast track for being a chef. It was a great experience, but you
have to be in a position to take out of it what they give you. You
need experience working in the kitchen and even college is helpful
before going to culinary school.
AB: Who are your mentors? What
are some of the most important things you’ve learned from
JD: Josie Le Balch. Every day
for five years I have worked side by side with her. She has been
a wealth of information.
AB: What is your philosophy
on food and dining?
JD: I try to work on a level
that I want to eat at. I strive to be great at what I do.
AB: Are there any special ingredients
that you especially like?
JD: I like horseradish, if
you use it in the right way. The pungency can dissipate subtly,
and it can actually be sweet. Also, Meyer lemons have such a distinctive
flavor profile. They’re prominent yet subtle.
AB: What is your most indispensable
JD: My sieve for straining
and clarifying. My spice grinder – it’s like a coffee
mill but for grinding fresh spices.
AB: What is your favorite
question to ask during an interview for a potential new line cook?
JD: What do you want to be
when you grow up? What is your absolute strength? Where do you fit
in a line?
AB: What tips would you offer
young chefs just getting started?
JD: Exercise, wear comfortable
shoes, and drink a lot of water. Twelve-hour days are draining,
and burnout is the number one problem for chefs.
AB: What are your favorite
Dean and Deluca Cookbook. It’s a fun book
to read. I love the little stories and snippets of information.
AB: What cities do you like for culinary travel?
JD: Florence has amazing Italian
cuisine and markets. I love the little cafes. I also like Barcelona
for tapas and San Sebastian. Also, Chicago and New York have an
immense amount of talent.
AB: What are your favorite
restaurants –off the beaten path – in your city?
JD: Christos has Greek
food with Western influences. I like the grilled octopus. Phillipe’s
has the best French dip sandwich. Soot Bull Jeep
on Vermont for Korean. I like Lara’s for their mole,
Gilbert’s for their Fernando Burrito, and Rays
Buren for cheap eats.
AB: What trends do you see
emerging in the restaurant industry now?
JD: I see chefs getting back
to the basics and over the steakhouses.
AB: Where do you see yourself
in 5 to 10 years?
JD: Here in Los Angeles with
a child. Perhaps having my own restaurant or my own television show.
And working with the food I love.