French food is as ubiquitous in the culinary world as plates or spoons; you need only look at the bulk of the chefs on this list to see that for yourself. But where many chefs focus only on traditional French cuisine, Justin Devillier has made a name for himself by blending the unique cultures of France and Louisiana to create something entirely new.
Born and raised in California, Justin moved to New Orleans in 2003, where he worked in the kitchens of Bacco, Stella and Peristyle; along the way, he picked up the finer points of French cuisine and charcuterie from Chef Anne Kearny-Sands. In 2004, Justin joined the team at La Petite Grocery, and unlike most chefs on this list, he has worked his way up to the top at the same restaurant for the past 12 years. After Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans, Justin was a vital part of rebuilding La Petite Grocery and making it into the staple of New Orleans dining we know it to be today. In 2007, Justin was named Executive Chef, and in 2008 he was named a “Chef to Watch” by both Louisiana Cookin’ magazine and the Times-Picayune.
Justin’s commitment to the revitalization of his hometown has paid off in spades- since its reopening, La Petite Grocery has been considered a New Orleans staple, and it’s due in no small part to the efforts of the native son who helped get it back on its feet.
Specialties & Resources
Justin aims to honor both his Louisiana roots and the French traditions from whence they came in his dishes. Offerings such as his steak tartare with quinoa, buttermilk, horseradish & pickled quail egg, griddled octopus with potato salad, pistou & florida bottarga, fried gulf oysters with summer squash, tomatoes, crème fraiche, sweet corn & horseradish, and turtle Bolognese with bucatini, sherry, parsley & fried soft-boiled egg demonstrate a wholly unique approach to balancing the cuisines of two very different regions.
It’s no wonder that Zagat noted that Justin makes “clever use of local ingredients in his expertly crafted Contemporary Louisiana-French dinners”- there likely are very few chefs on this list who would even consider using a turtle in their meals, much less making it the focal point of the dish. In a way, Justin’s creations are symbolic of the American Experiment: a mishmash of two (or more) disparate elements, the result of which is often greater than the sum of its parts.
Justin’s creative approach to food is a symbol of Louisiana culture: taking what’s available and making something unexpected and delicious. And as long as he’s around, the dining scene in New Orleans is sure to continue to grow.