From Mom's Kitchen to August: An Interview with Chef Josh Eden

By: Cyndi Amaya

When one thinks back to how they got where they are today, many can attribute their current successes to support from their parents. For born and raised New Yorker, Chef Josh Eden, this is no different as he always attributes his guidance towards the kitchen to his mother. That support led him today to his new position as Executive Chef of August in West Village, NYC.

Yet, Josh's mom was but one of the huge culinary mentors he's had throughout his career. I caught up with Chef Josh for more insight to what led him to August, and here's what had to say...

How did you start in the food world?

My earliest experiences of cooking were with my mom and even when she wasn't home (since she was an only parent) I learned how to defrost meats that my mother had purchased and cook them up. From there, I also remember when I got a little older and I wanted money to go out with my friends, my mother encouraged me to get a job to pay for my own outings, and again I worked in restaurants and bars.  I would work and bring the money home and she would put it in my college fund. So I definitely have to tip my hat off to her since she instilled in me a good work ethic and lots of support for achieving what I wanted to achieve.

Then went to college at the University of Maine, got a degree and when I came back home, my mother asked me "Well, what are you going to do?" And I told her I wanted to go to culinary school and she said "I kind of expected that." So it wasn't much of a surprise to her and she still offered her support which I'm very grateful for.

I've heard you've worked for some big names. How is it working at a comparatively smaller restaurant like August?

Yeah, I worked with Jean Georges and Daniel Boulud for several years. I worked for a while at Daniel and then moved on to work at JoJo with Jean Georges. I helped open Jean Georges, Mercer Kitchen, Prime Steakhouse, and Spice Market.

I finally decided to leave the JG company and open my own place, Shorty's .32. After a 4 year run, I had to close it down and I heard about August and this opportunity and jumped right on it because I can't imagine life without cooking and I wanted to stay in the game.

But working either big kitchens or smaller kitchens is fun! They're both different and have their own good aspects. August is awesome because of the aesthetics, like the greenhouse and the wood-burning oven. After cooking for over 20 years, this is actually my first time working with a wood-burning oven and I love it! It's different and I'm still learning new things every day.

What are some of your inspirations in the kitchen? In life?

It's hard to say that my inspiration is farm-to-table, since that's really every chef's obligation in my opinion; but I do love seeing food from its raw state to where we take it to, I would say that that's part of my passion. But really at the end of the day, I just want to make people happy. This is one of the few businesses that at the end of the day, you know whether or not you've done a good job and if people had a good time or they didn't. You're only really as good as the last dinner you ever cook.

In life and outside of the kitchen, I love music. Definitely food and music are two of the things that drive me, and I play guitar (and the trombone and clarinet) as well. I think there's a great correlation between food and music; the industries are very similar. A musician knows once he finished his show whether they enjoyed it or not, so it's similar in that respect.

At the end of the day, I want to make people happy and that's what makes me happy!

What are some things you have in store for August?

We're going to keep the menu regionally European. As we roll into the winter months, you're going to see more braised meats, maybe some whole fish, and heartier dishes. Then going into the spring, you'll see some more Mediterranean-inspired or Southern French dishes. It's going to be fun- I'm looking forward to it!

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