Food & Drink

Get to Know Zoe Nathan and Josh Loeb

The couple behind Rustic Canyon, Huckleberry, Sweet Rose Creamery, and Milo & Olive

zoe nathan & josh loeb!

We can thank fate (i.e., two meddling moms) for the culinary-turned-romantic union of Zoe Nathan and Josh Loeb. The resulting farmers market-focused restaurants include Huckleberry, Rustic CanyonSweet Rose Creamery, and Milo & Olive. But the familial theme doesn’t stop there: The lease for Milo & Olive was signed while Zoe was eight months pregnant with the bakery/pizza joint’s photogenic namesake. We jumped at the chance to chat with the power couple — and little man Milo — over an impressive (homemade) breakfast spread. q&a!Your restaurants are all on the Westside. What’s the significance of that part of town?
We grew up around here and our families are here. We felt like we knew what was missing food wise and wanted to open places that the neighborhood didn’t already have, places we’d want to go.

Milo gets involved when you guys cook at home. Does he have a say in what gets on the menu in any of your restaurants?
He gets a say in what doesn’t get taken off the menu. We could never get rid of the mushroom pizza at Milo & Olive, bonbons at Sweet Rose, gingerbread cookies at Huck, or French fries at Rustic. Those are his staples.

zoe nathan & josh loeb!

As far as seasonal ingredients go, which are your favorites for colder months?
Apples, pears, winter squash, pumpkins, and leafy greens.

Give us some pro pointers for traversing a farmers market.
Go early. In the summer, find out which farmers have seconds (slightly cosmetically damaged produce that gets sold at half the price, sometimes less). Tomatoes make great soups and sauces; peaches and stone fruit are great for cobblers, pies, and ice cream.

Is there one you frequent more often?
Santa Monica on Wednesdays for the restaurants and Pacific Palisades on Sundays for our house.

zoe nathan & josh loeb!

We’re assuming the two of you have a great meet-cute story. Can you share?
We were an arranged marriage (we’re only partially kidding). Our moms were in a book club together. Being good Jewish mothers, they wanted to find someone good for each of us. My [Josh’s] mom was the pushier one and knew that if she tried to set me up, I’d run the other way. She told me that her friend’s daughter was a pastry chef and set it up like a work meeting. Zoe started working at Rustic Canyon a couple of months before we started dating. One day I asked her out for a tango class at The Broad Stage theater down the street. That was the first and last time I ever took a dance class, but things moved quickly from there. Zoe fell for me even though she knew I was an awful dancer.

You run several successful ventures together. Any advice for couples in business with each other?
Be nice and do your best to leave work at work. It’s stressful, especially when you run your own business, but we learned early on that it didn’t make us happy to take it out on each other. We had to really listen to each other, choose our battles, and figure out who the decision mattered most to and let that person have his/her way. We try not to bring work home, which isn’t always possible, but we do a fairly good job of it.

Who’s the brains and who’s the brawn?
Josh is the brain and Zoe’s the brawn — it’s kind of a reversal of roles.

zoe nathan & josh loeb!

Favorite spots in L.A. for date night?
We love to go to dinner and a movie. It’s pretty old-fashioned, but an early sushi dinner at Kiriko on Sawtelle, followed by a movie at the Landmark is a go-to for us. We attempt to go out once a week and recently had a good meal at Salt Air in Venice and a fantastic time at Republique — we’d be there all the time if it was in our neighborhood.

Any guilty culinary pleasures that would shock people if they found out?
Josh is a sucker for a grilled cheese with American cheese, although we buy the organic kind at Whole Foods, which is pretty good. Zoe stocks frozen blintzes so every once in a while she can just have those for dinner. Also, Josh’s face lights up in front of a big plate of Buffalo wings.

After five restaurants, are you ready to take a breather, or are there new projects in the works?
We have two new projects opening next summer. One is a Southeast Asian bistro — we’re partnering with Bryant and Kim Ng, owners of The Spice Table. Bryant is an amazing chef, and we’re excited to bring his food to this side of town. We’re opening a wine shop and bar in the same building with our longtime staff member and sommelier, Kathryn Weil Coker, and her husband, Tug. It’s going to be a European-style spot with snacks and wines to drink in-house or buy retail. We’re also opening our first place across town this winter, a Sweet Rose Creamery on Beverly Boulevard.

Huckleberry’s breakfast-centric cookbook is also set to publish next year. Can you give us a sneak peek? Here’s a recipe for one of Zoe’s favorites — multigrain pancakes.

zoe nathan & josh loeb!

Photos: Kimberly Genevieve for DailyCandy

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