What’s NOT on My Resume: Josiah CitrinBy Kathleen Squires | August 8, 2013 By Kathleen Squires | August 8, 2013
No one starts out on top. Especially in the food business. In this weekly column, chefs and restaurateurs across the country share the stories of their humble beginnings.
One of Los Angeles’s most respected chefs, Josiah Citrin of Mélisse wasn’t always collecting accolades. The chef/owner of our highest-rated French restaurant in LA once toiled in the less celebrated kitchen of Café Pacifico, a Mexican cantina in Paris. “I needed a break from my intense culinary training; I wanted to relax a little and enjoy the city," he explained. "The atmosphere of the restaurant was inviting and friendly and that really stuck with me. I knew that I wanted to eventually open up a fine-dining restaurant and tap into that same ambiance and feeling I had while working in that restaurant in Paris because it created and brought back great memories for patrons and me as well.”
It was also a great spot for him to woo the ladies. “My buddy Raphael Lunetta (JiRaffe) worked in the front of the house and would tell me when there were pretty women at tables. I would make roses out of tomato peels and put them on guacamole and he would serve it to them.” While Citrin’s gestures may or may not have worked on French women, he was able to win over one particular woman in the kitchen. During his spell at Patina, he met a pastry chef, Diane, who eventually became his wife.