24th April 2015
Interview: Killian Fox
Photographs: Yousef Eldin
24th April 2015
Interview: Killian Fox
Photographs: Yousef Eldin
A familiar face on the Paris food scene, Adler moved here from San Francisco in 2009 to work at the restaurant Spring2, where he took charge of the wine list. He left three years later to set up Paris Wine Company, which exports French wine to the US. (He also runs a distributor in California called Mission Wine Merchants.) Wine is a major passion but he’s no less serious about food: when we come round for dinner, Josh is very calmly preparing a three-course meal for eight people, with an extra vegetarian option, while keeping an eye on two-year-old Max.
When Catherine returns home from work, she tells us her husband isn’t always so calm in the kitchen – the unruffled exterior belies a perfectionist streak. She dons an apron and joins Josh at the counter3 to prepare chilli con carne. The other guests arrive, among them a local coffee roaster and an Israeli neuroscientist, and the evening gets off to a dramatic start when Josh takes a champagne sabre to a bottle of Cremant du Jura, which promptly explodes. It works better second time round with a bottle of cider (more conventional methods are used to open the other bottles of wine). Dinner is served – the chilli con carne, made with chunks of beef instead of mince, is magnificent – and we carouse on into the early hours of the morning.
Afterwards Josh made us a mix of bluegrass and country music (with a dash of reggae thrown in) to complement the meal.
Since 2004. I was big into bikes and thought it’d be fun to do bike tours in France. So I got a job with a tour company in Burgundy and ended up biking around all the vineyards in the Cote d’Or outside Beaune. That got me interested in wine. Back in San Francisco I worked in a wine shop, got into tasting and became a buyer.
Daniel Rose at Spring invited me to come and do the wine list at the restaurant. That was in 2009. I stayed for three years, then left to start my own company. The original goal was to sell direct to the consumer but that morphed into selling to professionals. Now I’m mainly working with young winemakers to help them sell wine in the US. I know a lot of distributors over there, so I can match them up. I also started my own distribution company in California.
France is the best. I’m not biased, but French wine is the best.
Yes. There’s a new wave of winemakers, a younger generation taking over that is interested in organic farming, less intervention, natural processes – like you see in food generally. So I work with these young people, find ones doing good wine and help them sell.
I have been travelling a lot around France, but now I work with about 30 winemakers so I’m not looking around quite so much. I’m thinking of starting a distribution company in Paris as well. Most people buy direct from wineries, but distribution isn’t very efficient here, so I think there’s some space to work with wineries and do a little distribution closer to home. France is the best place in the world to be a wine geek. I’m not biased, but French wine is the best
Yes, since I was in middle school. Me and a friend used to cater meals for our parents’ friends in Ohio. We’d go over and they’d pay us a hundred bucks plus all the ingredients to cook dinner for them. When you’re 12, that’s pretty good.
My dad was very interested in food and he got me into it. He used to throw dinner parties all the time and spend three or four days cooking.
Not really. He was trying to do really fancy dishes at home, cooking from Michelin star cookbooks, ordering fish that was flown in from wherever and doing really elaborate sauces. I like eating elaborate things in restaurants but at home I prefer simpler dishes. You get such good quality produce over here. In fact a lot of the stuff my dad would order was from France – hah!
Not really. I try to be.
Catherine: You are.
Josh: When things don’t work I’ve been known to throw things.
Catherine: He’s terrible like that. Then I come in and say, “It’s not that bad, we can save that.”
Josh: In cooking, yes.
“It’s more dramatic than pulling out the cork: you run the sabre up the side of the bottle, along the seam, and the top of the neck comes off clean – in theory at least.”
Josh on his favourite kitchen objects – see Pantry
I’m not a good cook for just a few people. Usually when I cook for two I tend to make tons of leftovers.
Six to eight.
Catherine: My cooking is French, but he’s in charge tonight so it’s going to be…
Josh: More American than usual.
Catherine: You cook a lot of French stuff as well. It’s just that he’s more versatile – he cooks a lot of Asian food too.
Catherine: It varies. When I have less work, I do more.
Josh: I’ll go shopping for food a lot. What’s interesting about France is, people keep less stuff at home and shop a lot more regularly. We shop four or five times a week so we don’t really have a big store of food at home.
Actually Paris isn’t great for produce – although I’m pretty snobby because I spent five years in California where you can get really fantastic stuff. The thing is, there’s such a strong local demand for good produce in France and people don’t bother shipping to Paris because it’s a big pain. Regional markets in France are usually fantastic, whereas in Paris they’re really not. Most people just go to Rungis4 and buy wholesale stuff.
Cheese. Good butter, crème fraiche, eggs, several mustards and hot sauces. Pickles. Several kinds of anchovies. Fruit, radishes…
Usually. What I should have done, when we renovated the kitchen, was put a wine fridge in. I decided not to because I felt that was too bourgeois.
For me, the fallbacks are the wines from people I know. In terms of regions, I like Burgundy – that’s where I got into wine. But Burgundy’s so expensive now.
Catherine, do I have a comfort food? I like stews.
Catherine: I’d say boeuf bourguignon is your comfort food.
Josh: Yeah I definitely like boeuf bourguignon.
Zoe Adjonyoh – The chef & food writer cooks Moroccan chicken for lunch, recounts a journey to her Ghanaian roots and explains how a pot of peanut butter stew launched a flourishing food career
Roger Phillips – The horticulturalist and food writer takes us around his secret London garden, discusses his deep-rooted love of mushrooms and explains why he sleeps in his kitchen
Erwin Gegenbauer – The master vinegar brewer takes us on a tour of his Vienna factory, explains why local produce is “boring” and makes us breakfast featuring his own honey, oil, coffee, beer and cider