Chef Jill Davie of Josie - Los Angeles Rising Star on

Photo Credit: Jon Deshler

Jill Davie
2424 Pico Blvd.
Santa Monica, CA 90405
(310) 581-9888

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Antoinette Bruno: Why did you start cooking? What or who inspired you to become a chef?
Jill Davie: It was mostly my mom. I wouldn’t eat anything. I hated meat, and my mom’s idea of cooking was thirty seconds in the microwave. My parents had dinner parties, and I started to cook for them. At 12 years old I knew I wanted to be a chef.

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Jill Davie
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 Charlie Trotter's.

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”.

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Interview Cont'd
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 them?
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 kitchen tool?
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 cookbooks?
JD: The Dean and Deluca Cookbook. It’s a fun book to read. I love the little stories and snippets of information.

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.



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   Published: May 2006