A culinary career wasn’t necessarily Jonathan Waxman’s first career choice, although he was raised by parents who loved to cook and shared that love with their son. In fact, the Berkley, California native, born in 1950, was a trombonist, playing in bands in Las Vegas when he moved to France to study at the famed La Varenne, where he began to cultivate his reputation for California cuisine fused with French influences.
His culinary career began at Domaine Chandon and Chez Panisse in Berkeley before he earned a spot as sous chef at Michael’s Restaurant in Santa Monica, where he was later promoted to executive chef.
Waxman then made the cross country move to New York City where he opened Jams in 1984 which he followed with Buds, and Hulot. Jams opened a London location in 1987. Today, Waxman is the owner of Barbuto in New York City. New York Magazine describes his latest restaurant as “Jonathan Waxman is back, this time dishing up rustic Italian-bucatini, bacalao, a lemony roast chicken-at the casually hip West Village bistro Barbuto.”
The celebrity chef has also served as a consultant to Universal Studios in California, Ark Restaurant Corporation in New York, and Restaurant Above in New York.
He was named the “Comeback Kid” by the 2002 Chef Awards.
Waxman has also tallied numerous television appearances, most recently guest starring on the premier episode of PBS’s Vine Talk. Hosted by actor Stanley Tucci, Vine Talk makes choosing and evaluating wines simple.
A guest judge on Top Chef twice in 2010, Waxman also competed in the second season ofTop Chef Masters, securing the fourth place spot in the competition that pits heavyweight chefs against one another. Waxman has also appeared on The Next Food Network Star.
Waxman has also published two cookbooks: A Great American Cook in 2007 and Italian, My Way in 2011.
When he’s not in the kitchen, Waxman dedicates his time to helping others, most notably volunteering with Meals on Wheels, The American Cancer Society, and The March of Dimes. His influence on the culinary world is vast with famed chef Bobby Flay publically acknowledging Waxman as his mentor.
When he was recently asked about food trends, Waxman responded, “We are seeing a return to roots, a return to neighborhood restaurants. Many chefs are done doing fancy things and are celebrating what they do well. They are not afraid to do their own thing and there’s not so much of an urge to copy others.”