Photograph by Carlie Statsky
Kitchen utility belt not included: Culinary icon Jozseph Schultz strikes a pose.
No Ordinary Joze
His brick-and-mortar India Joze may be gone, but Jozseph Schultz's after-hours menu is as eclectic as ever
By Paul Wagner
Jozseph Schultz, Santa Cruz's best-known local restaurateur-turned-caterer for the past few decades, has a fantasy. An ultimate food event. A virtual cuisine-aganza spanning senses and centuries. Here it is:
"First, I'd assemble a dream team of my greatest ex-India Joze cooks"--cooks, that is, from his famed and award-winning restaurant--"from around the world."
"I'd get Ibu Wayan," worldwide culinary star of the Balinese Monkey Forest, "away from her string of hotels and restaurants in Bali," and bring her in as well.
The atmosphere? "I'd get B Modern to do costumes for the staff. And Susan Foster [the prominent UCLA dance professor] to choreograph the staff and guests, and my tech theater friends to design lights and staging--and I'd have the Karamazov Brothers to juggle and serve. And have both a gamelan orchestra and a baroque orchestra for the sonic environment."
And that's just the sensory surround. What about the food? Here, the fantasy expands to embrace the dimension of time.
"I'd re-create the history of cuisine. From the discovery of breads, wine and barley beer in Mesopotamia, spit-roasted oxen from Ancient Greece, the subtle sauces of Achaemenian Persia, the dazzling spicings of Ancient Rome, the garden profusions and sweet dainties of the Islamic agricultural revolution, the New World ingredient invasions, the woks and curries of the Indian/Burmese flowering, the refinements in sauce and pastry of Careme, through to the foams and surreal juxtapositions of modern 'molecular' cuisine."
The odd thing about that spectacular imagining is that it's not so imaginary. Over the years, Schultz has in fact done much of what he fantasizes--only in smaller portions.
Look around, and you'll find Jozseph Schultz doing just that, wokking through billows of steam and spice, nearly everywhere. At the annual New Music Works Avant Garden Party (this year, on June 3, on an island in Live Oak). At the Greek Festival in September, and the Museum of Art and History benefit in winter. At campaign kickoffs for Mark Primack and for Christopher Krohn. At weddings both local and far afield. At both Cabrillo and UCSC, teaching culinary arts to eager students. Leading groups on ethnic food shopping trips to San Jose, creating mushroom specialties at the annual Fungus Fair (this year, scheduled for Louden Nelson Center Jan. 12, 13 and 14). And serving soup to the homeless on cold winter mornings.
Or you can find him receiving one of this year's Gail Rich Awards, "recognizing people in the arts who inspire our community," at their 11th annual ceremenony on Jan. 31 at the Kuumbwa Jazz Center.
Most regional residents, though, still know Schultz primarily from his former restaurant, India Joze, which was located in Santa Cruz's downtown Arts Center, now housing the Center Street Grill.
First opened in 1972, India Joze began as an avant-garde restaurant, introducing locally unrecognized food and drink, most memorably an unusually spicy tea--known throughout the Eastern world, but at the time virtually unknown to the West--called chai.
Joze quickly became more than just an exotic eatery. A mere one-minute stroll away was the old CaffÈ Pergolesi, nestled within wraparound wooden decks behind the pre-quake Bookshop Santa Cruz. And a 15-second walk to the opposite side of Joze was the still-existent Arts Center Theater, which at the time hosted not only plays but also frequent musical events.
Situated in the midst of this most heavily trodden hardscaped path in town, Joze found itself deliciously poised to become one of the primary points--if not the outright center--of the city's downtown creative community.
And it did. Within its glass and stucco walls, glowing bowls of vivid pink shrimp-tapioca crisps and fragrant cups of chai competed day and night for table space with scripts, screenplays, dissertations, designs and costume renderings. Publications rose and fell over Balinese banana fritters. Movies gained funding, or didn't, over baba ghanouj. And many a poem, pristine and freshly typed upon its writer's entry, later exited bearing the waft of hash browns topped with sour cream as its re-entered the star-filled night.
Remarkably, the restaurant and chattering cultural scene served as the platform for other activities occurring at India Joze.
"We were," observes Schultz, "the first high-quality wholesale bakery in the county, before Gayle's and Kelly's--a direction we left as the market matured."
And then, the events. The world's first International Calamari Festival, springing back to life annually for 17 years. A Chickpea Festival (nine years). A Mushroom Festival (five). Brazilian Carnavales. Persian New Years. Dim Sum parades. And on UCSC graduation weekends, over 1,000 dinners a day cooked, plated and enjoyed.
Word spread. San Francisco PBS viewers voted India Joze one of the Top 3 Santa Cruz restaurants for seven years running; in 1995, they rated it No. 1.
Meanwhile, along came the reviews from Santa Cruz publications, then from the San Jose Mercury News and its magazine West. San Francisco magazine followed, as did The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times and the Washington Post.
And with all that press heating up the attention level, why not publish books? Three volumes, co-authored with artist Beth Regardz, followed: a Calamari Cookbook published by Celestial Arts/Ten Speed Press in 1980, a Chickpea Cookbook via India Joze Publishing in 1988 and a Mushroom Cookbook, by the same press, in 1992. All three can still be found. The Calamari Cookbook, widely available, continues to generate fans: "The recipes are exquisite!" crows an Amazon reviewer, who slathers the book with all five possible stars.
Jozseph remembers that period well. "I started India Joze alone as an excuse to do lots of cooking in 1972, and various people started helping." As it expanded, though, "I took on partners in 1974 and incorporated with different partners in 1977. India Joze grew and grew."
The restaurant's ceaseless expansion, though--more tables, longer hours, a new room on the side, extra outdoor seating amid palm and bamboo gardens--coincided with the increasingly volatile oil economy and sharp economic shoals of the late 1970s. That, along with an influx of newcomers saddled with earlier schedules, longer workdays and less interest in dining surprises, began to change things.
"Over the years," Schultz recalls, "we refined and somewhat limited our offerings to meet the desires of our clientele." Hours changed to accommodate the newer crowd, too. "We were open until 3am for years until demographic shifts made that infeasible."
Meanwhile, the great splattering of the general public's tastes into narrow and specialized genres--a shift which has so greatly affected pop music, radio and print publications--did much the same to eateries. By the 1990s, "the restaurant market in Santa Cruz became irreversibly fragmented into niche markets," Schultz notes.
And personal priorities, such as marriage and family, rose to the fore. Schultz, married now for 17 years to Ann Simonton (head of Media Watch), found his attention shifting. "After I got married and had a son, I got a little tetchy about spending all my evenings, weekends and holidays at work." Between the cultural, economic and personal changes, Jozseph found the fundamental assumption underlying India Joze' existence too difficult to maintain: "Our ideal of being good enough for anyone and cheap enough for everyone became untenable." So in 1996 Schultz sold the restaurant, and has been free of brick and mortar ever since.
But a boy so born to cook that he distinctly remembers presenting his family with rice, cheese and hot tomato soup at the age of 3 doesn't just shut up shop because a restaurant reaches the end of its experimental life.
No, the Chicago-born and San Diego- raised Jozseph Schultz took his training as a teenage busboy--and the "fine-tuned cooking" he'd developed "in procrastination from my studies at UCSC" after his arrival here in 1968--and used them to launch a new set of enterprises.
First off was teaching. The most informal of Schultz's teaching gigs were, and are, schedule-at-leisure sessions, for home and professional cooks, focusing on exposing clients hands-on to the wide range of cuisines still unfamiliar to many Americans. For these sessions, clients do the shopping and provide the space, and Jozseph brings the rarer ingredients, pro equipment, and an afternoon and evening of instruction, preparation, cooking, enjoying and reviewing. Everyone who wants the recipes gets copies. And he brings an assistant to help clean up.
If shopping for the ingredients proves too mysterious (and it can), Jozseph will start the day earlier, carting clients over the hill directly to the sources. And if they didn't know beforehand that Viet, Indian and Middle Eastern fast food existed to fill the schlepping traveler, they will by their return.
And Schultz fully enjoys it. "I love showing people tricks of the trade I have developed over the years that make entertaining guests the pleasure it is supposed to be. And I love figuring out the preferred cooking styles of my clients: Early prep? Last-minute prep? Lotsa helpers? Shopping intensive? Formal? Small plates? And showing them how to do what they do better."
Besides which, Schultz notes, "so many people in Santa Cruz have great home kitchens, much better ones than I had at India Joze in its formative years." The ease of the tools makes the work even more pleasurable.
Teaching three classes for the culinary arts program at Cabrillo College has also proven enjoyable, providing continuity in his schedule. And, Schultz points out, "it lets me hold forth on ethnic foods every spring." And he's got enough of a following that this spring's classes are already filled.
Looking at the syllabi, it's easy to see why. The Advanced Culinary Arts class, co-taught with Eric Carter, covers so much that even its syllabus for a particular date literally sprints: "Quiz: seafood. Lecture: poultry."
The History of Sauces class, also taught with Carter, zooms from Ancient, French, Asian and non-European to modern and dessert sauces, and culminates with each student assembling a full-scale world sauce chart.
An Ethnic Foods course, which Schultz teaches solo, includes Indian, Mideastern, Persian, Spanish, Greek-Turkish, Moroccan, Indonesian, Viet, Balinese, Thai and Burmese culinary techniques, a summary of what he calls World Wide Flavor Principles, and a field trip to San Jose to shop and snack. So if students can't quite properly get the essence of Lamajoon, Skordalia or Mah Haw Galloping Horses on their own, masters await in the field to demonstrate how mouth-watering they can be.
The classes, however, still aren't the end of the Cabrillo teaching story. Jozseph Schultz also spends several Wednesday evenings each spring helping oversee dinner service at the Pino Alto training kitchen and restaurant at the college. There, students present dishes--from portobello mushroom sandwiches to ziti pasta with baked pumpkin--to any member of the public who feels like paying the minimal prices.
And those students who wish to can top off their training--as can anyone, actually, who's registered at Cabrillo College and wishes to go--by traveling with Schultz and a Bali Hindu priest, from mid-June through early July, on what he terms "the ultimate cooking class"--a Bali-bound three-week intensive on tropical foods, culture and history. Visits to an aboriginal village, a ceremonial cake factory and dinner with a royal family, interspersed with meals of smoked duck, rice wine and palm beer and continual cooking and cultural classes, fill all three weeks to the brim.
Schultz is in the process of expanding that culinary/cultural immersion program, too. "I hope to lead a similar culinary exploration to Turkey next year," says Jozseph, "following up on my recent research there."
UCSC has also enjoyed Schultz's expertise. He team taught a course in culinary anthropology and sociology at UCSC that "attempted to put our culinary values in some kind of world perspective," he says. And students have sought out his one-session intensive classes, as well. A Greek cuisine workshop included egg-lemon soup, yogurt-cucumber salad and donuts in orange-flower syrup. An East Indian class ranged from appetizers to relishes, salsas, chutneys, rice dishes and desserts. And a Thai session featured wok'd rice sticks. His impression of the U? "UCSC students seem unimaginably wealthy to this humble child of the '60s."
And then there is the most unpredictable enterprise of all: India Joze Extraordinary Culinary Events, Schultz's catering business.
And when we say catering, we're not talking about showing up with plastic trays of geometrically arranged cold cuts and bins of family cookie selection number 36. Nope. We're talking about catering in the classic sense; working to please. As in "Peel me a grape." Or, in this case, "Peel and fry me 600 grapes, and then marinate them in peanut sauce, by 3 o'clock."
And in some cases, that extends to "and do it without electricity or running water," which Jozseph has taught himself and his team to do without--and still provide quality cuisine--when necessary.
Such as in remote locations. "I've done some film-shoot catering up the North Coast under fairly miserable conditions," notes Jozseph. How does he pull it off?
"I bring tanks and buckets of water if needed, and use propane-fired woks, though I have worked over wood fires." After all, electric power and on-site running water "are luxuries in many parts of the world."
Still, despite his best efforts, it sometimes all goes wrong.
"I cooked for a Balkan dance camp in Mendocino a couple years running. Turkish, Greek and Balkan food, 250 dancers, four meals a day for a week. Great eaters, dancers and fabulous music. It was great being able to dance till the wee hours after work, like in the old Dragon Moon days. Alas, I melted down one of the camp stoves and used their wiring to capacity and beyond. So they didn't ask me back."
And once, catering even led to legal trouble. "I'm a big believer in rights for all people--even poor people--and I've never felt that politeness or drug-free-ness or economic usefulness was a precondition for the right to live here, so I have been part of various demonstrations over the years."
"And, Schultz concludes, "I actually got arrested at the Town Clock maybe 10 years ago." For what? "Serving soup."
But there are plenty of upsides in catering, too. Like: "When you do nothing but special events, you aren't spending money when you aren't making money. Ten years ago, India Joze needed to do $3,000 per day to squeak by. That's a ton of falafels," Schultz deadpans.
And that need to constantly produce income led to secondary conflicts: "I was always squabbling with my partners about wanting to keep prices low. And in running a restaurant, the day after day scheduling screw-ups and equipment breakdowns and strategic gambles are always eating away at your enjoyment of your previous triumphs."
So Jozseph Schultz treasures his catering enterprise, one in which "every cooking situation is new." And he takes advantage of that newness, that present-moment-ness, to do more than just cook. He performs. "Will perform Dragon Chicken," reads one of his quick-class listings.
And what, exactly, does that mean? Part of it is the dragging out of the tanks of water and firing up of the propane woks, when necessary. Another is a black apron bearing gleaming knives. And a demonstrative laying out and chopping up of ingredients.
But there's more. "Most cooking these days tends to be done backstage--or in walled-off metallic kitchens--"with finished products whisked out right after the prep. TV cooking shows have seven instances of the same dish going on in the background so each will be ready when needed."
But not at India Joze Extraordinary Culinary Events. "I do everything in real time, in plain sight." And there's the whipping around, keeping it all going, doing many things at once.
This performing has a purpose greater than just entertainment; it's meant to involve and engage. Performing the act of cooking, Schultz notes, itself indicates intimacy: "No prepared food you can buy shows the intimate concern for your guests that making things yourself does. Eating together builds an important emotional bond; a sense of sharing. Cooking is love made manifest."
And, therefore, it helps bind and engage possibly dissimilar others, "bringing people together and bridging cultural differences with food." After all, "food is central to all our values," Schultz avers, interacting with "self-definition, self-expression, health, classism and social justice, and hope for a sustainable future."
And that's where the ethnic focus comes in: "Learning the values and food practices of other cultures helps us see our own more clearly."
"All cooking is ethnic cuisine, unless you are one of those rare individuals who do not belong to an ethnic grouping," Jozseph wryly notes. In addition, "all food is situated in a historical setting." So performing foods from differing cultures and historical periods functions as an equalizer, demonstrating the commonality in all human experience.
Schultz demonstrated his commitment to equalizing again recently, when on Dec. 22, he handed out "frost-fighting food," with fellow Tim Rumford, as part of a demonstration against strict winter enforcement of the city of Santa Cruz's outdoor sleeping ban.
"That particular action had to do with a court decision decriminalizing public sleeping in L.A. that we feel needs to be applied here," he explains, referring to a federal Ninth Circuit case prohibiting the city of Los Angeles from interfering with homeless sleepers on public sidewalks on nights when shelters are filled.
And, Schultz says, his stance is not a product of disembodied idealism: "India Joze was one of the only public restrooms downtown for many years, so I have earned my right to be impatient with those who say the homeless are ruining downtown."
Speaking of which, would Jozseph Schultz ever consider reopening the award-winning restaurant and social vortex?
"India Joze was an outgrowth of a very specific time," he recalls. But "the current economic and social climate makes it hard for me to conceive how such a labor and artistically intensive operation could become established now."
On the other hand, "I would love to be part of a group of creative food people treating dining as a performing art and maintaining an ongoing space for such performances."
We can hear the jugglers unloading, even now.Jozseph Schultz will receive a Gail Rich Award on Wednesday, Jan. 31, at 6pm at the Kuumbwa Jazz Center, 320 Cedar St., Santa Cruz. To learn more about his latest adventures, visit www.indiajoze.com.
Joze Hash Browns
No, you can't go back to a youth spent living on India Joze hash browns, but you can make your own with the following recipe courtesy of Jozseph Schultz
1 1/2 pounds red potatoes, sliced 1/4-inch thick
3 tablespoons peanut oil
3 ounces mushrooms, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon salt to taste
3/4 cup artichoke hearts, drained
3/4 green bell pepper, thinly sliced
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1 medium tomato, chopped
1/2 bunch green onions
3 tablespoons sour cream as desired
1. Boil potatoes until just tender. Drain and cool.
2. Heat peanut oil in heavy skillet. Add potatoes and fry until light brown.
3. Add mushrooms and salt and continue frying until mushrooms are lightly browned. Potatoes should be adequately salted at this point.
4. Add drained artichoke hearts, green bell, white pepper, stir, then add chopped tomatoes and green onions.
5. Garnish with sour cream and serve immediately.
A selection of Santa Cruz culinary experts who are ready, willing and able to cater your next soiree
Aloha Island Grille 1700 Portola Drive, Santa Cruz. 831.479.3299.
Armadillo Willy's 2180 41st Ave., Santa Cruz. 831.479.7422.
Bella's Catering 5520 Scotts Valley Drive, Scotts Valley. 831.461.0500.
Breadstix Deli and Wine 7528 Soquel Drive, Aptos. 831.688.1366.
Brookdale Lodge 11570 Hwy. 9, Brookdale. 831.338.6433; www.brookdalelodge.com.
Bruno's BBQ Restaurant 245 Scotts Valley Drive, Scotts Valley. 831.438.2227. 303 Potrero St., Santa Cruz. 831.457.9222; www.brunosbbq.com.
Cafe Cruz 2621 41st Ave., Soquel. 831.476.3801.
Carried Away 7564 Soquel Drive, Aptos. 831.685.3926; www.carriedaway foods.com.
The Crepe Place 1134 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz. 831.429.6994.
Culinary Creations 831.338.4609.
Dharma's Catering 831.429.2377.
El Palomar Restaurant 831.425.7575.
Event Grill 831.234.0151. www.eventgrill.net.
Feast for a King Catering 831.464.1741; www.feastforakingcatering.com.
Feel Good Foods 415 River St., Santa Cruz. 831.466.9754.
Five Star Catering 831.728.3090; www.fivestarcatering.us.
Gadabout Gourmet Catering 831.475.4886; www.gadaboutgourmet.com.
Gayle's Bakery 504 Bay Ave., Capitola. 831.462.1200.
Gigi's Bakery and Cafe 550A River St., Santa Cruz. 831.425.4800; www.gigisbakery.com.
Golden China Restaurant 1866 Main St., Watsonville. 831.724.6957.
Harbor Taqueria 460 Seventh Ave., Santa Cruz. 831.479.1366.
India Joze Extraordinary Culinary Events www.indiajoze.com
In Vino Veritas 230-G Mt. Hermon Road, Scotts Valley. 831.461.0851; www.invinoveritassv.com.
J&S Catering 839 Walker, Watsonville. 831.768.8901.
Kiss Catering 831.419.6627; www.kisscatering.com.
L8 Buffet 431 Front St., Santa Cruz. 831.426.8168.
La Bruschetta 5447 Highway 9, Felton. 831.335.3337; www.labruschettasc.com.
La Colmena Mexican Foods 129 W. Lake Ave., Watsonville. 831.724.4544.
Lifestyles Culinary Catering 101B Cooper St., Santa Cruz. 831.466.5092; www.lifestyleculinary.com.
Ma Maison 9051 Soquel Drive, Aptos. 831.688.5566.
Michael's Catering 831.426.1515; www.michaels-catering.com.
Michael's on Main 2951 Main St., Soquel. 831.479.9777.
Monterey Bay Caterers 152 W. Lake Ave., Watsonville. 831.722.9444; www.montereybay caterers.com.
Peachwoods Steakhouse Highway 17 and Pasatiempo Drive. 831.426.6333; www.peachwoods.com.
Russo's Catering 831.423.1851; www.russoscatering.com.
Seascape Foods 16 Seascape Village, Aptos. 831.685.3134.
Sergio's Catering 831.722.5550
Severino's Bar and Grill 7500 Old Dominion Court, Aptos. 831.688.8987.
Southern Exposure Catering 2901 Research Park Drive, Soquel. 831.479.9086; www.southernexposure catering.com.
Star Bene 2-1245 E. Cliff Drive, Santa Cruz. 831.479.4307.
Takara Japanese Restaurant 1800 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz. 831.457.8466.
Tampico Restaurant and Lounge 822 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz. 831.458.2821.
The Wedding Connection 9099 Soquel Drive, Aptos. 831.688.0355.
West Coast Barbeque 831.295.2868
Zoccoli's Delicatessen 1534 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz. 831.423.1711.
Zuniga's Mexican Food 100 Aviation Way, Watsonville. 831.724.5788.
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