Q & A with Josephine Executive Chef Ryan Pitt

Marilyn HawkesJanuary 3, 2020
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Josephine, a new restaurant concept from True North Studio Lifestyle, will open in the heart of the Roosevelt Row Arts District in early January. Housed in a bungalow built in 1919, Josephine will also have a 1970s Parisian-inspired cocktail bar, Coup de Grâce, tucked away in the back of the restaurant that will feature “molecular twists” on classic cocktails with an emphasis on whiskey and absinthe.

Executive chef Ryan Pitt will offer “an elevated, yet approachable dining experience with a focus on globally inspired cuisine,” featuring large and small sharing plates chock-full of quality ingredients. We recently caught up with Pitt, formerly chef de cuisine at Café Monarch, to talk about what he’s got planned.

What can you tell me about the concept?
I’ll be using French cooking techniques along with French influences from around the world. It won’t be a French restaurant with classic French dishes. I’m using my experiences from traveling to places like New Orleans, Morocco and Vietnam.

Can you give me an example?
An example would be the Balinese chicken satay that’s marinated overnight in a Balinese marinade. I’ll put hot coals in a cast iron pan and cook the skewered chicken at the table so that (guests) will get that smell of the marinade like you would in Bali or on the streets of Morocco. I like to bring the experience to the table and give guests a little bit of a show.

What other dishes do you have planned?
I’m making a New Orleans Cajun spring roll. So instead of just making a traditional Vietnamese spring roll, I’m doing a Cajun style shrimp that’s wrapped in the spring roll with the Vietnamese mint and cilantro. Instead of using traditional carrots or scallions, I’ll do the New Orleans “Holy Trinity” of red bell pepper, onion and celery. Usually spring rolls are served with peanut sauce, but I’m doing an Old Bay Spice peanut remoulade.

What do you bring to Josephine from past kitchen experiences?
Café Monarch is a destination restaurant for people who are celebrating an anniversary (or other special occasion). I picked up amazing things from Café Monarch as far as fine dining goes, and before that, I was at Citizen Public House, where I learned so much from Bernie Kantak. I basically took both of (those experiences) and came up with the concept for Josephine. You don’t need an anniversary to come to Josephine because it’s very approachable. It’s that middle spot between comfort food and fine dining.

What else would you like people to know about Josephine?
We’re very, very hospitality forward. That was one thing that got me into cooking – the idea of hospitality and how to welcome someone into your restaurant and treat them like a guest in your own home. That’s what we’re striving for at Josephine and Coup de Grâce. And I can’t wait for people to come in and try the food.

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