Jonathan is a native Californian. Raised in Berkeley, he was nurtured in the food arts from an early age. His father was raised in the Bronx & his mother in Bedford-Stuyvesant and they went to great lengths to educate their sons in all things culinary. His grandparents owned a farm in Sonoma & they raised sheep, cattle, and chickens. Jonathan studied enology & political science at UC Berkeley. His other great passion was music; he played trombone professionally in the infamous band ‘Links’, jazz groups & other venues.
While selling Ferraris in Berkeley the owner offered to introduce Jonathan to the “Tante Marie” cooking school in San Francisco. With Mary Risley he studied the gamut of French cuisine. This led to his enrollment in the La Varenne School in Paris. Here he received the Grand Diplome and mastered the fundamentals of classic French Food.
He returned to the United States to work at Domaine Chandon in Napa Valley. Jonathan started in the Pastry department with German pastry chef Gunther Heiland. Here he learned sugar work, chocolate fundamentals and expanded his pastry repertoire. Then he moved up to the position of Sous Chef with Philippe Jeanty and consulting chefs Paul Bocuse & Roger Vergé. Jonathan then worked with Alice Waters at Chez Panisse. He found great inspiration & culinary excellence as well as lasting friendships with Mark Miller, Deborah Madison, and Judy Rogers.
In 1979 Jonathan become the Executive Chef at Michael’s restaurant in Santa Monica. There he developed his version of Californian cuisine. His sous chefs included Mark Peel, Gordon Naccarato, Nancy Silverton, Roy Yamaguchi, Kazuto Matsusaka & many others. After five years he felt ready to try it on his own.
Jonathan moved to New York with partner Melvyn Master where they opened the celebrated Jams on East 79th Street. Florence Fabricant referred to the opening of Jams as a “culinary comet”. Jams featured bold cuisine, great wines, designer uniforms, Christofle silver & the best of New York’s contemporary artists. Jams was followed by Bud’s, Jams London & Hulot’s, a New York French Bistro. He opened Table 29 in Napa Valley in 1992.
In 2001 he returned to the full time NY restaurant world with his Washington Park. Today, Waxman is the chef and owner of Barbuto in Manhattan’s West Village. His first cookbook, A Great American Cook, was published in 2007 and his second book, ‘Italian My Way’, was released in April of 2011.
He participated in two seasons of Top Chef Masters on Bravo, where he earned the nickname ‘Obi Wan Kenobi’ and Jonathan Gold of the LA Times has referred to Jonathan as ‘the Eric Clapton of chefs’. Giving back is important to Waxman and he works closely with many charities including City Meals on Wheels and Alex’s Lemonade Stand. He currently lives in Manhattan with his wife and three children.