5 Questions for Josie Le Balch
Josie Le Balch is chef-owner of Josie Restaurant in Santa Monica, known for her farmers market approach to American cooking, "with French and Italian influences," she notes. But the menu at her recently opened Josie Next Door reveals a quirkier side: beer and bacon caramel corn; deviled eggs and duck cracklin's; booze-cured salmon; and dry-rubbed pork riblets.
What’s coming up next on your menu? It’s my favorite time of the year, so all types of peas (English, sugar snap, pea tendrils) and mixing them all with our house-cured pancetta since it’s not a party without pork! I’m also waiting for Zuckerman’s asparagus to start, and I’m loving the citrus — Oro Blanco grapefruit, Cara Caras and blood oranges.
Latest ingredient obsession? Kale! I can’t get enough — we have it on the Next Door menu in a chopped salad with chick peas and pickled onions. It’s so sad, even on my day off I find myself at Whole Foods buying kale to make the salad at home. You would think I could get my fill at work….
What restaurant do you find yourself going to again and again? Los Toros in Chatsworth. It's one of the oldest restaurants out here and the bean dip is addictive!
The one piece of kitchen equipment you can’t live without, other than your knives? My big Hobart meat grinder attachment. We grind the game for our chili, venison sausages, pâté … wouldn’t want to live without it!
What’s your favorite breakfast? Fried eggs from my "girls"! I have a gang of backyard chickens, all with crazy names, and all laying the most delicious eggs. I feed them greens from the farmers market — leftover carrot tops, beet greens, etc. Those girls are so spoiled.
Josie Restaurant, 2424 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica, (310) 581-9888, www.josierestaurant.com. Next Door by Josie, 2420 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica, (310) 581-4201, www.nextdoorbyjosie.com.
-- Betty Hallock
Photo credit: Josie Restaurant