Josie Le Balch

Josie Le Balch | Executive Chef & Owner | Josie Restaurant
The first time Josie Le Balch picked up a knife to prepare to cook, people shrank back in horror. It wasn’t a commentary on her cooking, but rather a reaction to seeing an eight-year-old wielding a 10-inch chef’s knife. For by that age, she had already been drafted by her father, Gregoire Le Balch, to chop parsley and chiffonade basil at his cooking school in West L.A.
Thankfully, Le Balch the Younger was a rebellious teenager, because whenever she was grounded, her punishment was doing time at the Elder’s restaurant, Chef Gregoire. At first she holed up in the wine room; eventually she filled in for an AWOL dishwasher one night, then for a sick sauté cook. Thus a career was born.
Today, Le Balch’s cooking, which she describes as “progressive American with French and Italian influences,” has won a cadre of admirers. Caroline Bates of Gourmet proclaimed, “Le Balch can cook circles around most of her contemporaries.” When Le Balch opened her eponymous restaurant, Bon Appétit’s Tanya Wenman Steel wrote, “Los Angeles probably has more women chefs per square inch than any other city, and Josie in Santa Monica adds another great one to the list.” Her cooking has the power to seduce even the most seasoned food writers, as Patric Kuh demonstrated in Los Angeles: “It caused the reviewer in me to give way to the diner.”
Her intensive education led to jobs at Ma Maison with Wolfgang Puck and at L’Ermitage with Jean Bertranou. In 1986, Le Balch became head chef at the Saddle Peak Lodge in L.A. Four years later, Francesco Antonucci approached her to lead the kitchen staff at his Santa Monica restaurant, Remi, a move that won her an armful of awards including Best New Restaurant from Los Angeles magazine. In 1995, Le Balch returned to Saddle Peak Lodge at the requests of its new owner where she went on to earn the restaurant such top honors as the famed DiRoNa award for Food and Service. In 1998, she opened The Beach House in Santa Monica, and then, in 2001, Le Balch opened Josie Restaurant in Santa Monica, which has since been consistently named one of the best restaurants in L.A.
Le Balch has been featured in such national media as Bon Appétit, Food & Wine, Gourmet, Food Arts, Condé Nast Traveler, Wine Spectator, Elle, Esquire, Travel & Leisure, Art Culinaire, InStyle, and USA Today, as well as the Food Network’s “Ready, Set, Cook” and “Ultimate Kitchens,” the syndicated “Recipe TV,” and most recently as a guest judge on Fox’s “Hell’s Kitchen” with Gordon Ramsay.
In August of 2011, Josie opened Next Door by Josie, a casual spot located right next door to the original Josie Restaurant. Due to its tremendous success in the few short months that it has been open, there are plans for more on the horizon.