The Tasting Panel magazine

JULY 2012

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Page 59 of 132

CHEF TALK Shared Cooking Space RESTAURATEUR JOSIE LE BALCH CONNECTS THE SPOTS "Duck! Tagine! Hot dog!" In a typical restaurant kitchen, these words would most likely qualify as nothing more than a bizarre non-sequitur when strewn together. But in the shared cooking space that connects the critically acclaimed Santa Monica, CA fine dining establishment Josie with its gastropub-like offspring Next Door by Josie, such a unique verbal sequence is rather commonplace. In fact, it is ideally symbolic of the vision that the restaurants' owner and Executive Chef, Josie Le Balch, had when she launched Next Door last September as a casual complement to her eponymous upscale venue. "I wanted Next Door to be a fun little neighborhood place," she says. "It had to be held to the same standards as Josie, but it needed to have its own distinctive personality, so it didn't feel like we were just doing the same thing over again." Chef/owner Josie Le Balch has created two Southern California restaurants that showcase uniquely distinctive expres- sions of her culinary passion. Indeed, Next Door's bright, airy space and tapas-style menu is a distinct departure from Josie's subdued ambience and traditionally portioned cuisine. However, Le Balch's unwavering penchant for exploring new epicurean expressions through progressive American fare binds the two venues together as tightly as the joint kitchen. It's a steadfast mindset chiefly borne from her pedigree and her passion for classical culinary arts—she is a second- generation chef who butchers her own meat and provides both restaurants' eggs, produced by her own chickens—and it allows her to push the envelope fearlessly and gleefully, particularly in Next Door's more relaxed milieu. "I feel that we can do whatever we want at Next Door, as long as there is a clear understanding of the food being made," she states. "Because of that, the kitchen feels like a big playground to me." Of course, it is only natural that the two venues share their clientele. After all, they do share kitchen space. —Rich Manning Yoga for Life Thoughts from Wente Vineyards' Fifth-Generation Winegrower, Karl Wente. Since graduate school at U.C. Davis, where I was studying wine and falling in love with the diversity of music, I began to practice yoga. I immediately realized the potential of yoga to create balance in the body, which allowed for more aware senses, making wine more interesting and fun, music more dynamic. My good friend, Joe Kara, yogi and musician, shared with me the centering, balancing and overall health benefits of the practice. It is just that: a practice. Yoga's unique challenges influence those who practice to develop an inner calmness. Yoga has opened so many doors for me. It helps me focus at work, whether I'm in a meeting or making wine. It helps keep me fit on the road where I go through time changes, have full days and often can't eat as well as I do when I'm home; and it brings me an inner quiet in this fast paced, intense world we live in. Don't worry about how you look or where you are. I even practice on airplanes when I travel. Who knows—you might be able to help someone else by introducing them to this amazing gift you give yourself and the world. Namaste, Karl july 2012 / the tasting panel / 59 KARL'S KORNER PHOTO: LEIGH CASTELLI

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