SANTA MONICA, Calif. — Roasting and blistering the peppers over an open flame is just the first step in creating one of the many magical sauces at Jonah’s Kitchen. Chef Jonah Johnson loves cooking with fire and the grill is the center of the restaurant.

“I’m trying to sort of make this place multi-cultural BBQ that you would do at home,” Johnson said.

From the handmade tortillas to the smashed potatoes and the Korean-inspired chicken, Johnson blends many cultures on his menu. It wasn’t really intentional though, it’s just what he grew up with.

“All of these flavors that meld together and they mix. It’s not about recreating something. It’s about taking the things you love and appreciate and seeing how great they work together,” Johnson said.

He picked up a lot of traditions and cuisines over the years, starting in Minnesota where he was born. His father is Black from the South and his mom is Swedish and Serbian. But, his family also would often have African exchange students stay with them, bringing their cuisine. Johnson also lived in Mexico for some time and then fully grew up in LA. He himself is his own melting pot.

“You get a beautiful outcome. That same thing is in my food. I only recently just started realizing it and trying to explain it,” Johnson said.

Not only did he taste the world from the States, he then traveled to the most unique locations while cooking on various movie sets. He was a chef for Leonardo DiCaprio during the filming of "The Revenant" in Patagonia, where he learned to make his chimichurri sauce.

“I do add a couple things in here maybe that most of my Patagonian brothers don’t, like cilantro and a little basil,” Johnson explained.

But now, Johnson wants to stay rooted in Santa Monica with this restaurant emulating his life. He hopes his guests will make their own experience by choosing their meats, sides and sauces. 

“We put a lot of love in it, but we are keeping it simple. You come here and make your own plate,” Johnson said.

For a more complete dish, you can enjoy the flavors of Peru with the lomo saltado featuring his not-so-secret sauce. He jokes, “I can’t tell you anything about it. It is red wine vinegar and a high-quality soy sauce.”

This is combined with fresh filet mignon, veggies and of course, more fire.

Another prime example of his restaurant is this brisket taco: American BBQ with some Mexican flair using chili sauce made with avocados.

From the food to the ambiance, you can travel the world without leaving Santa Monica at Jonah’s Kitchen, located at 2518 Wilshire Blvd. Santa Monica, CA 90403.