Chef / Owner of Mélisse and Charcoal Venice
Josiah Citrin is a culinary expert and veteran of Los Angeles’ gourmet dining scene, with more than 25 years of experience. He is the two-star Michelin chef and owner of Santa Monica California’s highly-acclaimed Mélisse, Charcoal Venice, and Dave’s Doghouse in the Staples Center in Downtown Los Angeles. His culinary philosophy, “In Pursuit of Excellence” sets the standard for all of his concepts, whether fine-dining or casual.
Citrin discovered his passion for food through his family at an early age, growing up in Santa Monica and Venice with a mother who was a caterer, and a French grandmother who cooked family meals. Their knowledge, combined with his excitement for cooking and business, led him to pursue a culinary career. Citrin moved to Paris to explore his French heritage after graduating from Santa Monica High School, and worked for three years at fine Parisian restaurants Vivarois and La Poste, gaining an understanding of and respect for the rules of traditional French cooking.
This invaluable experience taught him both the art and discipline of cooking and fine dining, and formed the definitive basis of his training. He returned to the United States in 1990 and began applying his skills at Los Angeles’ finest restaurants—notably Wolfgang Puck’s celebrated Chinois on Main and then at Granita. After two years, Josiah moved on to join Patina and Pinot Bistro and cooked alongside famed chef and savvy restaurateur Joachim Splichal. Citrin subsequently became chef at Capri restaurant in Venice and Jackson’s in West Hollywood.
With a heightened interest in French gastronomy and a spirit for entrepreneurship, Citrin launched JiRaffe in 1996 alongside childhood friend and fellow chef Raphael Lunetta. Selling his interest to JiRaffe to Lunetta in 1999, Citrin pursued his lifelong dream of opening his own fine dining establishment by debuting Mélisse which opened to critical acclaim and has been impressing the culinary world ever since.
Inspired by the convivial atmosphere of a family barbecue, Citrin opened two more casual concepts, Charcoal Venice and Dave’s Doghouse. Charcoal Venice, a neighborhood restaurant, offers craveable comfort foods featuring locally-sourced proteins and vegetables ideal for sharing family-style all cooked over live fire via charcoal utilizing three different ovens, including a Josper Oven, Big Green Egg, and Woodstone Grill. Citrin partnered with his cousin, David Cheren, to open two California locations of Dave’s Doghouse in the Staples Center, which features gourmet hot dogs.
He visits the weekly Santa Monica Farmers’ Market, where he selects produce from purveyors he’s worked with for years. His ability to remember, define, and pinpoint nearly everything he sees, tastes, touches, and smells has created an almost encyclopedia-like knowledge of all things food related. Citrin supports a number of charitable events each year including, cooking at the Wolfgang Puck Cancer Society Event, L.A. Loves Alex’s Lemonade, and fundraisers for Planned Parenthood, Special Olympics, Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, and Cure Autism Now.
Citrin’s honors include: two stars from Michelin Guide, #1 for Top Food in Los Angeles and #1 American-French Restaurant for Food in Los Angeles by Zagat (2013, 2014), “Best Wine List” by LA Weekly (2015), “Top 100 Restaurants in the World” by Elite Traveler (2015), Five Stars by Forbes Travel Guide (2013, 2014, 2015), “Top Ten New Chefs” by Food & Wine magazine (1997), and “Best Chefs of the Year” by Los Angeles magazine (2012).
In Pursuit of Excellence (Northstar Media Books, 2011) was his first cookbook and was awarded the gold medal and named best cookbook by the Independent Book Publishers Association in addition to being one of three finalists for a Benjamin Franklin Award.
When not working hard in his kitchens, Citrin is busy spending time with his two beautiful children. He likes to stay active and work off stress through cross-fit and surfing with his boys, and is constantly playing host to his friends and family by firing up the grill for a backyard BBQ.