Julian Medina, chef-owner of Toloache, Yerba Buena, and Yerba Buena Perry, has been creating refined Latin cuisine for over fifteen years. As a young boy in Mexico City, Julian was inspired by his father's and grandfather's authentic home cooking, which led him to become a chef. Julian trained professionally at Hacienda de Los Morales and Les Celebrites, in Mexico City's Hotel Nikko, where he quickly advanced through the line, learning the basics of French cuisine and fine dining. Each new kitchen position presented Julian with a unique challenge, elevating his work ethic and eventually promoting him to the hotel's highest ranks.
In 1996 Chef Richard Sandoval met Julian on a visit to Mexico City, and impressed with the young chef's energy and vision, invited him to relocate to New York City to work in one of his restaurants. Sandoval later appointed Julian Chef de Cuisine of Maya, an upscale Mexican restaurant he was planning. Under Julian's leadership, Maya earned two stars from The New York Times, one of only two Mexican restaurants in New York City to hold that distinction at the time. Wanting to further his formal education while still overseeing the kitchen at Maya, Julian enrolled at the French Culinary Institute during the day, where he earned the "Best Final Project" award in his graduating class.
After graduating from the French Culinary Institute in 1999, Julian sought to expand his professional cooking experience beyond Mexican and French cuisine by becoming the Executive Chef of SushiSamba, a popular Japanese-South American restaurant in New York City. He later helped open SushiSamba7, also in New York, and SushiSamba Dromo in South Beach, Miami. He returned to New York City in 2003 to become the Corporate Chef for all of Richard Sandoval's Mexican restaurants. One of his main duties was to create the menu for and manage the staff of a new upscale seafood restaurant in NYC called Pampano. When Pampano opened with Julian at the helm, it also garnered two stars from The New York Times.
Julian was hired as the Executive Chef of Zocalo, an Upper East Side Mexican restaurant in 2004. While there, he reinvigorated the restaurant, introducing local and organic ingredients and creating a host of original, lighter-style Mexican dishes that emphasized chiles and spices. He also created unusual events such as a Mexican Hannukah meal, a Passover Seder, and an avocado-themed dinner. Julian truly came into his own with the opening of Toloache in August 2007. The restaurant offers a creative, contemporary Mexican bistro menu with a focus on seasonal natural ingredients, and has quickly become a Theater District favorite.
Julian followed up the success of Toloache with the opening of Yerba Buena, in Manhattan's East Village, in June 2008. Yerba Buena's menu traverses Peru, Cuba, Argentina, Colombia, Mexico and Spain, showcasing the chef's well-traveled and seasoned career. Yerba Buena has garnered critical acclaim and a loyal following: New York Magazine named it one of 2008's best restaurants, and Time Out New York honored the restaurant with a 2009 Reader's Choice Award for "Best Reason to Brush Up on Your Spanish." A second location of Yerba Buena, Yerba Buena Perry, opened in August 2009 and has received similar attention, with Time Out New York awarding it 4/5 stars. Julian and his recipes have been featured in many publications, including The New York Times, New York Magazine, The New Yorker, and on television shows such as The Early Show, Good Morning America, Extra, LX.TV, and others. Julian resides on Manhattan's Upper East Side with his wife and daughter. Owners: Julian Medina, Louis Skibar, Brian Sobhan