A chef credited with trailblazing the New American cuisine movement in New York City, Jonathan Waxman has long been regarded as one of the country’s most inspiring chefs.
The California native transitioned from professional trombone playing to cooking in the 1970s, attending La Varenne Cooking School in Paris before landing in Alice Waters’ kitchen at Chez Panisse. Waxman went on to open Michael’s in Los Angeles, then the lauded restaurant Jams on New York City’s Upper East Side in 1984. His current NYC restaurant, Barbuto, is a West Village favorite for simple, expertly executed Italian fare, such as gnocchi with baby carrots, sunchokes and Parmesan, as well as his signature JW roast chicken with salsa verde. Thanks to connections made at his restaurants and through years of consulting, Waxman has become a highly valued mentor to an enormous network of chefs, from Little Owl‘s Joey Campanaro to Mesa Grill‘s Bobby Flay. He is also the author of two cookbooks, Italian, My Way and A Great American Cook. This is his first nomination for a James Beard Foundation Award.
This chef profile is part of a series we’re running as part of the annual James Beard Foundation Awards and Gala, commonly referred to as the “Oscars of the food world.” Winners will be announced on Monday, May 6, at Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall. For more information, see our introductory story.