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, 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 five of the top chefs in London at the time, asking for advice on becoming a chef.
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 – and 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 Saturday Times’ Giles Coren, who declared Zest “the best new restaurant in northwest London to open in ten years”. The Observer critic Jay Rayner later noted that “the food is delicious… it tastes like you are both being kind to yourself and showing your mouth a good time.”
Berber & Q is the product of a lifelong exposure to diverse cultures and cuisines. Growing up in North London meant regular visits to the many Israeli restaurants, falafel shops, Middle Eastern grocery stores, bakeries, butchers, and the Shawarma houses which became regular after-school haunts. Dishes and cuisines savoured outside of London have also impressed themselves on Josh’s cooking, spending swathes of time 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 many Shipudim restaurants.
Josh has also taken inspiration from unpretentious American BBQ 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 & Mattia Bianchi opened their second restaurant, Berber & Q Shawarma Bar at 46 Exmouth Market on 25th 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.