Josiah Citrin Brighton

BN1 Chats with Josiah Citrin – the Michelin chef bringing Santa Monica to Brighton

Brighton and Santa Monica officially joined forces over May and August in an exciting partnership that saw the iconic beach destinations become Friendship Cities. We caught up with Josiah Citrin a 2x Michelin star TV chef and owner of Melisse LA, as one of the guest chefs from Los Angeles’s gourmet dining scene and more than 25 years of experience.

Santa Monica at Shelter Hall

Do you think there are similarities between Brighton and Santa Monica? Obviously, both are famous beach cities, but is there a shared outlook on life and food among their populations?
Absolutely! The two cities share iconic piers, beautiful coastlines, rich cultures and vibrant communities along with their love of food. With Brighton and Santa Monica pairing as friendship cities, each community has the opportunity to learn from each other, to exchange ideas and develop new ways of thinking and interacting with one another. This kind of relationship is crucial for culinary innovation. There are many similarities in their food and culture but also interesting quirks and differences.

What was it like to partner with The Set’s Dan Kenny to co-create the menu in Brighton?

Josiah Citrin (centre) and Dan Kenny (right)

It was fantastic to work with Chef Dan Kenny on the special Santa Monica collaboration menu at The Set. Dan and I looked at our menus together, considered each other’s style and availability of dishes and produce during the time of the event, and I shared some ideas of a few of my dishes which could fit in with the menu. We then developed the dishes together for the limited edition menu.

There seems to be a revolution in the gourmet scene, where non-formal restaurants are offering a more colourful experience and there’s a renewed focus on quality food. How much of this stems from societal trends?

The Sperry Topsider in the 50s was the first soft shoe that people came about in the 1950s. It shifted the dynamic towards being less formal. Since their creation, things have become increasingly more casual- not just in fashion but in everyday life, which includes food. We’ve ended up with more casual food over the years, while guests still have discerning palates and expect nothing but the best.

Are ventures like the Shelter Hall, which are flexible enough to host both pop-ups and established eateries, the future of dining – especially when it comes to attracting a younger crowd? It seems like many cities across Europe are fully embracing this new culture.
Ventures like Shelter Hall are absolutely what the younger crowds are looking for. It’s the type of place that can offer something for everybody, so it makes things easy and fun and encourages you to try new dishes and cuisines in one place. These kinds of eateries have been around for a while, such as Eataly which opened in NYC in 2007 and Paul Bocuse’ Les Halles de Lyon which opened in 1971. They really started the trend of having different options available inside one place, similar to an open market.

Is the size of a restaurant relative to its suitability for either fast-casual or formal dining?
Large, fine dining restaurants need to have a lot of kitchen space in order to be able to prep. There are so many different elements to each dish that require a lot of space and multiple stations to prepare the food. For fast-casual places, you need to have a large enough space that you can handle the food and volume, but small enough to keep the cost down.

How much does your heritage manifest in your cooking, or is it more responsive to your restaurant’s surroundings?
My mother was a catering chef who worked out of our home and I grew up watching her prepare and cook food. I would often help her to make a little extra cash to go surfing on the weekends. My French grandmother was also a huge influence. I loved watching her cook and I enjoyed sitting around the table with family and friends to experience food together. I’ve always loved food and the experiences that go with food. I wanted to give that lifestyle a shot by pursuing my own culinary career.

My cooking style is rooted in classical French techniques, infused with influences of modern, global flavours and Californian cuisine. Each dish I create is driven by seasonal and fresh market produce, sourced locally.

Does winning Michelin stars impact you, or would you be making great food regardless of any recognition?
Michelin stars are a dream for most fine dining chefs, it gives the recognition to my guests who search that style of cuisine. That being said, I would be making the same great food without the stars. We had a 10 year stretch when Michelin was not in Los Angeles and not knowing when they would be back but we continued to create amazing food.

For more information about the Santa Monica Loves Brighton events and menus visit www.santamonicalovesbrighton.com

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