Louis DeCaprio

Johnson helped turn the L.A.-style Jewish delicatessen into one of the most talked-about restaurants of the year. Now she's ready to do her own thing, she tells mkgallery

Maria Yagoda
June 21, 2018

Liz Johnson, a 2018 mkgallery Best New Chef, is leaving Freedman's, the critically-acclaimed modern Jewish deli she helped open in November of last year. But L.A. folk, do not despair: The chef has no plans to leave the city.

After announcing her departure on Tuesday, Johnson tells mkgallery that she is in the beginning stages of planning a concept of her own. 

"I'm seeking financial backers and investors while trying to find a perfect location and staff, and this will be in Los Angeles," she says. "I’m hoping to have more information within the next six to eight months."

To those who were dazzled by Johnson's work at Mimi, the old-workld NYC brasserie that put her on the map, we offer more good news: Her menu at the new concept will channel a parallel ethos—"similar to the food I was doing at Mimi, with more of a French background," Johnson says. 

Whatever comes next, we're certain that the 27-year-old chef, who piled roasted bone marrow and fried potatoes on brisket and mixed dried Oaxacan chiles into ketchup, will continue to captivate. 

"It all might be best expressed in her version of a black-and-white cookie, a vanilla-sugar number that is soft and tender where the OG version is dry and cakey, with glossy ganache and egg-white frosting where a purist might have settled for fondant," mkgallery restaurant editor Jordana Rothman wrote of Johnson's work at Freedman's. "With one bite it resolves every broken promise of every black-and-white that came before it, reminding us that in the hands of a true technician, relics have plenty of fight left in them."

On Tuesday, the chef released a statement announcing her departure from Freedman's, which will continue running with its opening team that includes Jonah and Amanda Freedman, the brother-sister duo that bought the strip mall space (a former Cuban restaurant) and dreamed up the new-wave delicatessen. 

"After working with Freedman's for a year and a half, I'll be departing to explore new endeavors," Johnson said in a statement. "I am proud of what we’ve accomplished together and wish them all the best going forward."

Owners Jonah Freedman and Nicholas Papadatos offered a similar statement: “After working together for a year and a half, Freedman’s is saying goodbye to Liz Johnson. We wish Liz the best in her future endeavors. We are proud of what our talented team has accomplished so far and remain committed to delivering our take on a Jewish-ish dining experience.”

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