Born in Bogota, Colombia and raised in Clinton, New Jersey, Sumile chef Josh DeChellis, 31, is an unlikely standard bearer for traditional Japanese cuisine. But his inspired use of Japanese ingredients is leaving an indelible impression on the New York dining scene.
At 14, Josh began working at a local restaurant to earn money for a new snowboard. The unconventional lifestyle of the chef immediately attracted him to the profession, as did the pleasure of seeing good food delight the guests. Over the objections of his parents, Josh followed his passion and entered the esteemed Culinary Institute of America in 1992. After graduation, he began his professional career as a chef de partie working at the Frenchtown Inn in Frenchtown, New Jersey. He then landed a position in San Francisco as sous chef at Wolfgang Puck's famous Postrio. After three years in San Francisco, Wolf sent Josh to France to further educate him on traditional French technique, where he worked at two Michelin three-star restaurants: the famed L'Arpege and Lucas Carton.
Upon returning to the States, Josh was ready to give New York a try. His career took a seminal turn when he began working with Rocco DiSpirito at the then New York Times three-star-rated Union Pacific. While working there, Josh also traveled around the world, going on eating trips through France, hunting for truffles, and cooking in Singapore. To round out his epicurean experiences, he also worked with such notable chefs as David Bouley, Charlie Trotter and Jean-Georges Vongerichten.
Ready to head up his own kitchen, Josh found a fitting home for his adventurous cuisine at Sumile. Before opening the restaurant in September 2003, he spent six weeks eating and cooking in Kyoto and Tokyo's Shibuya-Ku neighborhood, cooking with regional ingredients and perfecting the nuances of traditional Japanese technique. Once back in the US, he searched for specialty importers to bring many of the ingredients he discovered in Japan to Sumile, recognizing that "The more special flavors I can find, the better equipped I am to make something spectacular." Some of his most exclusive ingredients include fresh myoga, kinome (the leaves of the sansho pepper plant), fresh ramen imported directly from Japan and tonburi (not-so-commonly known as “field caviar”).
At Sumile, Josh showcases flavors that are clean and authentic, two qualities that echo throughout Japanese cuisine. His inspired, devil-may-care approach to cooking has resulted in rave reviews from guests and critics alike and a reputation as rising star in the culinary world.