What do you do when you have played every role in the restaurant business? You open your own. At least that was the case for POSH chef/owner Joshua Hebert, who began cooking at an early age and was doing it professionally before he even graduated high school. The impressive pioneer has a resume a mile long including an executive chef title at Tarbells, a gig at San Francisco’s famous Zuni Café and the opening of Café California in Tokyo, Japan. With a passion for instruction and a love for the calm found only in the pastry kitchen, Josh’s restaurant (on Scottsdale road nestled in the retail and dining area of Optima) seemed like the kind of relaxing place you look forward to going for dinner. We had a chance to chat with him and you can read our Q&A after the jump.
You have worked all over Phoenix and half way across the world, what made you want to open your own restaurant here?
Before opening POSH, I had done fine dining, I had done high volume, I had proven that I was fiscally responsible and the last project before this one, I saw from moment of inception, to investor’s from the ground up over the course of three years and I felt like I was ready to give myself a promotion.
Has it been everything that you wanted?
Well ain’t that the truth, you own it and your the Chef so there must be some difficulties in that.
I have someone who manages the day to day operations in the kitchen so a lot of times I just walk in the kitchen and say, “What do you want me to do?”. Or vice versa, maybe somedays I’ll walk in and say “Hey, why don’t we do this?”, but owning a restaurant is two full-time jobs and being a chef is one and a half full-time jobs. So, yeah…there is some delegation required if you want to own and be kind of a chef/owner. You have to know where to disconnect.
Tell us about the concept of Posh, how did it come to be and what was your inspiration?
Posh is kind of a globally inspired fine dining restaurant. We call it improvisational cuisine because when you sit down, we give you a list of ingredients, cross off anything you’re not interested in having, choose how many courses you want and then indicate any other general dislikes, like olives or goat cheese, and we make sure we don’t serve it to you. We just try to serve seasonally interesting food while avoiding your dislikes.
Okay, are some people absolutely ridiculous with their dislikes?
No because everybody’s entitled to their own…ideas. It’s not very common anymore, but in the beginning, when there was not very much known about the restaurant, every once in awhile someone would come in and see it as a challenge. With that, you’re just ruining your own experience. We are not trying to ask you to challenge us, we’re asking to accommodate you. If you get really ridiculous, you are just shooting yourself in the foot.
What can your patrons look forward to when dining here, like tonight for example?
I don’t know, I’m working the pastry kitchen. We like to bounce and forth from exotic to simple to unique depending on the person. Some molecular, some Asian, it just depends.
What’s your favorite thing to make?
I like to skirt the line between traditional Japanese with some French influence. Both and French and Japanese cuisine take a lot of time and care with classic egg dishes so a lot of traditional french egg dishes with Japanese flavors like miso, different styles of soy and lots of japanese vegetables.
What about your life outside the kitchen?
I actually do cook a lot at home on my days off. I cook to spend time with my wife and dogs, I am an avid golfer and so today, for example, I’ve been trying to keep myself updates on the scores of the U.S Open. I also try and find time to play myself which I do a lot of in the mornings before coming to work this time of year.
Do you have any words of wisdom before we part ways?
I just like to encourage people, especially Arizonans in this type of economy, to support their local businesses so they stay in business. I encourage people to try new things, and that doesn’t necessarily mean Posh. Strike out, find something new, go to a farmer’s market, I understand there is not a lot going on in the summer time, but the more you support your local businesses in the summer, the more likely they will be there year round to enjoy.
These are very precarious times for restaurants, large or small, inexpensive or expensive, everybody’s trying to make the same dollars. Tourism is huge here in the winter months, but we love taking care of our locals.
Oh, and we have to ask, what’s your favorite restaurant? Outside of Posh….
Four Peaks. It’s not the fanciest restaurant, but there are many Sunday mornings and early afternoons where I sit on the Patio of Four Peaks drinking beer and eating piles of nachos.