Jonathan Waxman

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Award-Winning Chef & Restauranteur


Jonathan Waxman: Biography at a Glance


  • Chef/Partner of Barbuto, Jams, Montecito and Brezza Cucina
  • James Beard Award Winner - Best Chef: New York City
  • Judge on Bravo’s Recipe for Deception
  • Regular Guest Judge on Bravo’s Top Chef and Runner Up on Bravo’s Top Chef Masters where he earned the nickname “Obi Wan Kenobi”
  • Guest Judge on Food Network’s Beat Bobby Flay
  • Co-Founder of Music City Wine & Food Festival






Jonathan Waxman is a native Californian. Growing up in Berkeley, he was nurtured in the food arts from an early age by his parents and grandparents, who owned a farm in Sonoma where they raised sheep, cattle, and chickens. At UC Berkeley Jonathan studied political science. It was here he developed his other great passion – music – and began playing trombone professionally in the band Links and other jazz groups. But music would ultimately play a secondary role as his culinary career blossomed.

While selling Ferraris in Berkeley, Jonathan’s employer introduced him to Tante Marie’s Cooking School in San Francisco, where he studied French cuisine with Mary Risley. This led to his enrollment in the La Varenne School in Paris, where he mastered classic French cooking technique and received the Grand Diplôme.

Jonathan returned to the United States to work at Domaine Chandon in Napa Valley. He started in the pastry department with master pastry chef Gunther Heiland and was later promoted to Sous Chef with Philippe Jeanty and consulting chefs Paul Bocuse and Roger Vergé. Jonathan then worked with Alice Waters at Chez Panisse, where he found great inspiration, as well as lasting friendships with fellow alumni Mark Miller, Deborah Madison, and Judy Rodgers.

In 1979 Jonathan became Executive Chef at Michael’s in Santa Monica, where he developed his version of California cuisine. His sous chefs included Mark Peel, Gordon Naccarato, Nancy Silverton, Roy Yamaguchi, Kazuto Matsusaka, and many others.

In 1983 Jonathan moved to New York. A year later he opened the celebrated Jams on East 79th Street with business partner Melvyn Master. Jams featured bold cuisine, great wines, designer uniforms, Christofle silver, and artwork by New York’s top contemporary artists. Jams was followed by Bud’s, Jams London, and the French bistro, Hulot’s, as well as Table 29 in Napa Valley. In 2001, Jonathan returned to the New York restaurant world with the opening of Washington Park.

Today, Jonathan is the chef and owner of an array of restaurants including, the beloved Barbuto, Jams, Adele’s, Bajo Sexto, Bajo Sexto Taco Lounge, Montecito, Brezza, Brezza Cucina, and Waxman’s Restaurant & Cafe.

Jonathan’s first cookbook, A Great American Cook, was published in 2007 and Italian, My Way was released in April 2011. He was a judge on Bravo’s Recipe for Deception and appeared in two seasons of Top Chef Masters, where he was dubbed the 'Obi Wan Kenobi' of celebrity chefs.  Jonathan is also one of the founding partners of Nashville’s Music City Food + Wine Festival, which made its debut in 2013.

Giving back to the community is one of Jonathan’s core philosophies and he works closely with many charities, including Citymeals-on-Wheels and Alex’s Lemonade Stand. Jonathan currently lives in Manhattan with his wife and three children.

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