From his time at Michael’s in Santa Monica, to traveling Italy, to opening Jams in New York City, chef Jonathan Waxman spent the 1980s honing his particular style of California-Italian cooking. He was among the pioneers including Alice Waters, Larry Forgione and Wolfgang Puck, who helped transform restaurants in America. Though French trained himself, Waxman’s produce-driven fare drew from Italy, yet differed greatly from the Continental Cuisine being served in New York during the Reagan era. And, of all things, he became famous for a simple roast chicken with salsa verde. Eventually Waxman would create the restaurant Barbuto, a beloved West Village institution for 15 years. He closed the restaurant in 2019, but found a new location and reopened just before the pandemic hit. So while the restaurant is dormant once again, the recipes live on in his brand new The Barbuto Cookbook.
In this episode of Robb Report Culinary School, Waxman shows food and drinks editor Jeremy Repanich how to make gnocchi from scratch. That basic recipe, featured in one of the best new books of the fall, becomes the jumping off point to create dishes from the seasonal produce available like the delicata squash gnocchi Waxman cooks. The chef also talks about how he developed his style, the return of Barbuto and why he can’t wait to start cooking for diners again.
Odds and Ends and Additional Links
- The Barbuto Cookbook has the gnocchi recipe featured in the video as well as a few variations to try.
- Andrew Friedman’s outstanding book Chefs, Drugs and Rock & Roll tells the story of how a band of chefs in the late ’70s and early ’80s changed American restaurants forever, with Waxman one of the movement’s leaders.
- One of the epicenters of the New American Cuisine was Michael’s in Santa Monica, which Top Chef honored in the most recent season.
- You can follow Waxman on Instagram @chefjwaxman.
- Head to Robb Report’s Instagram page to check out more episodes of Culinary School, including Top Chef winner Mei Lin’s congee and James Beard Award-winner Chris Shepherd’s recipe for bacon chile jam.