In 2006, after completing an undergraduate degree at the University of Birmingham and a Marketing and Hospitality postgraduate degree at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Josh Katz decided it was time for a career change. Relishing a three-month beginner course at Le Cordon Bleu and inspired by the thriving food scene he found in Australia, Josh wrote a letter to London’s top five chefs asking for advice on getting into the industry.
It was Chris Galvin who invited Josh into his Baker Street restaurant for a chat; a week-long trial later, and Josh was made chef de partie at Galvin Bistrot de Luxe, a post he held until he was appointed sous chef at Ottolenghi. Two years later, Josh joined Made in Camden as head chef — awarded a Bib Gourmand in the Michelin 2013 Guide — where he received a glowing review by AA Gill in The Sunday Times, who stated that Josh’s dishes ‘are as good and enticing a collection of robustly flavoured and stoutly made food as you could hope for’.
Following his time at Made in Camden, Josh became chef consultant at Zest, the acclaimed restaurant attached to JW3, the Jewish Community Centre that launched in October 2013. The restaurant was awarded a rare 9/10 by The Times’ Giles Coren, who declared Zest ‘the best new restaurant in northwest London to open in 10 years’. The Observer critic Jay Rayner later noted that ‘the food is delicious… it tastes like you’re both being kind to yourself and showing your mouth a good time’.
Berber & Q is the product of Josh’s lifelong exposure to a variety of diverse cultures and cuisines. Growing up in north London meant regular visits to countless Israeli restaurants, falafel shops, Middle Eastern grocery stores, bakeries, butchers and shawarma houses, many of which became regular after-school haunts. Dishes and cuisines savoured outside London have also impressed themselves on Josh’s cooking; he’s spent many a happy hour wandering Istanbul’s local markets; searching for the best grill houses in Marrakech and sampling Jemaa el-Fnaa’s specialities; and eating meat skewers in Tel Aviv’s shipudim restaurants.
Josh has also taken inspiration from unpretentious American barbecue experienced in New York and sees this style of cooking as sharing sensibilities with Middle Eastern and North African cooking. Most of all, Josh is inspired by what all three of these cuisines represent: the epitome of informal eating, enjoying delicious, unpretentious food with friends and family.
Following the success of Berber & Q Grill House, Josh Katz and Mattia Bianchi opened their second restaurant, Berber & Q Shawarma Bar at 46 Exmouth Market on 25 July 2016. The new restaurant specialises in shawarma, slow cooked on a rotating spit over hot coals alongside Middle Eastern cocktails, wine and beer. In October 2017, they opened a kiosk in Spitalfields Market Kitchens.
Make sure to catch Josh being interviewed in the Theatre.