Los Angeles restaurateurs Zoe Nathan and Josh Loeb have created the platonic ideal of the neighborhood restaurant—casual and unpretentious, as befitting the Santa Monica beach vibe, but perfect in every detail.
The couple is known for hearty, market-driven food, like the clam-and-mussel posole verde at Rustic Canyon (recently energized by the arrival of F&W Best New Chef 2008 Jeremy Fox), and the maple-bacon biscuits at Huckleberry Café and Bakery (where Zoe, a gifted pastry chef, creates incredible sweet and savory dishes). Zoe’s cookbook, Huckleberry, comes out in the fall, just before she and Josh launch a wine bar called Esters, with Fox in the kitchen, and a Southeast Asian brasserie, Cassia, with F&W Best New Chef 2012 Bryant Ng.
At home in Santa Monica Canyon, hanging out with Josh and their two kids, Zoe prepares the kind of satisfying food that makes the family’s restaurants so good. At 6:30 a.m., she and three-year-old Milo run outside to bring her fresh corn muffins to the garbage collectors—a weekly ritual. One recent afternoon, Zoe stood barefoot in front of the industrial-size oven that Josh’s parents once used (he grew up here). With newborn daughter Tallula swaddled to her chest, Zoe roasted tomatoes for the open-face sandwiches she likes to smother in melted Gruyère. At the counter, Josh helped Milo frost a chocolate cake with buttercream and cocoa nibs. As Josh says, “The only way we can do what we love is to do it together.”