Josie Le Balch grew up in Southern California but her upbringing was very French, especially during mealtime. Josie’s father, Gregoire Le Balch, was a celebrated chef from Brittany and started one of LA’s first cooking schools in the early ‘60s. He also had an eponymous restaurant, Chef Gregoire on Ventura in Sherman Oaks, which operated as a cozy french restaurant and part-time school. As legend has it, one day a line cook didn’t show up and Josie, then 14, filled in.
Interestingly, Gregoire Le Balch was a traditionalist. As Josie told the LA Times in 2001, her father felt that “‘Women don't belong in the [restaurant] kitchen’,” which had the effect of inspiring Josie to become a chef, ”I had to prove to Daddy that I was good at it [cooking]. Like the please your parents thing."
This was great news for everyone who has enjoyed her skills in the kitchen. She first became well-known as the executive chef at Saddle Peak Lodge before opening her Santa Monica restaurant Josie in 2001. Both Josie and Next Door by Josie have been two of the best neighborhood restaurants in LA for years, with patrons posting on social media “They served “different and interesting” food way back when but soon became known for their organic simple delicious unpretentious fare.”
Josie closed earlier in 2015 with a note on their website that said, “It’s time for a little facelift - after 14 wonderful years, we think so! But don’t worry, stay tuned for a new and exciting experience.” As outlined in their press release earlier this year, this gives them time to refine the dining room and make a few more-than-cosmetic changes to the old place.
In the meantime, Next Door by Josie, which opened with a casual version of Josie’s in 2011, is open and the twitter feed gives updates for everything that is planned. Next Door by Josie will also supplement the regular menu with a few key classics from the Josie menu that customers just can’t live without.