Justin Devillier was raised in Dana Point, California, a small beach town in South Orange County. He spent summers fishing for Yellowtail and Albacore tuna, and in the fall and winter he would dive for lobsters just steps from his front door. This bounty of local seafood inspired him to enter the culinary industry, and after working in local restaurants right out of high school he decided to focus all of his time on becoming a chef. In 2003, Devillier moved to New Orleans in search of a vibrant restaurant community. He cooked in the kitchens of Bacco, Stella and Peristyle, where he learned the intricacies of French cuisine from his mentor, Chef Anne Kearny-Sands.
In 2004, Devillier joined the team at La Petite Grocery as a line cook, housed in a century-old building with a storied history, and was promoted to sous chef after one year. Following Hurricane Katrina, he helped re-build the restaurant’s infrastructure, and in 2007 was promoted to executive chef. A short three years later, Devillier and his wife Mia took over ownership in 2010. At La Petite Grocery, Devillier puts his creative spin on traditional New Orleans cuisine with dishes like Turtle Bolognese, Panéed Rabbit, and Blue Crab Beignets. He has been named a James Beard Award finalist for Best Chef: South for the past four years (2012 – 2015), and was also awarded “Chef of the Year” by New Orleans Magazine in 2014.
In early 2015 the Devilliers opened their second restaurant, Balise, named after the first French settlement at the mouth of the Mississippi River. Set in a 19th century Creole townhouse in the Central Business District, Balise celebrates New Orleans as a port city and its unique access to a wide variety of ingredients.
In his free time, Devillier is an avid fisherman and hunter, and loves spending time at the beach with his wife and two young daughters.
Originally from Charleston, South Carolina, Mia Devillier moved to New Orleans in 1996 to attend Loyola University. After receiving a degree in Business Management and Marketing, she worked as a manager with Martin Wine Cellar for three years before returning to school at the University of New Orleans for a Masters in Accounting. Upon graduating, Devillier worked as a tax accountant with Deloitte and Touche for three years.
Even during her professional career in business, Devillier has always held various positions in the service industry spanning 19 years – most notably with the House of Blues and in restaurants such as Lilette, Juan’s Flying Burritos and Marigny Brasserie. She joined La Petite Grocery in 2009 as General Manager, and she and her husband, Chef Justin Devillier, took over ownership of the restaurant in 2010. During her tenure, La Petite Grocery earned Four Beans from The Times-Picayune in May 2010, and has also been included on Brett Anderson’s “New Orleans’ Top 10 Restaurants” list by The Times-Picayune for 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014.
Mia and Justin Devillier’s second restaurant, named Balise after the first French settlement at the mouth of the Mississippi River, opened in the Central Business District of New Orleans in early 2015. Set in a 19th century Creole townhouse, Balise features a menu that celebrates Orleans as a port city and its unique access to a wide variety of ingredients.
Devillier attributes her passion for food and wine to her late father, Harley, and her knack for Southern hospitality to her late grandmother. In their honor, she continues her pursuit of providing memorable dining experiences at La Petite Grocery.
Bobby Margot was born and raised in Chalmette, Louisiana. He began in the restaurant industry at only sixteen years old, starting as a busboy and working his way up to bar back, bartender, server, and expeditor at Jaeger’s Seafood Restaurant in New Orleans.
In 2004, Margot moved on to Houston’s restaurant where he had the opportunity to learn the business side of the industry. He also taught continuing education classes for the staff covering all aspects of service, and was consistently ranked as one of the restaurant’s top ten employees. In July 2010, Margot was offered a management position at La Petite Grocery, and happily accepted. Expanding his responsibilities, he is now honored to be working as Assistant General Manager at La Petite Grocery as well as at Balise, Justin and Mia Devillier’s second restaurant that opened in February 2015.
Margot holds a Bachelor’s degree in marketing and business administration from the University of New Orleans. His interests outside the restaurant include cheering on the New Orleans Saints and the LSU Tigers, as well as fishing and hunting. Bobby is passionate about maintaining a positive work environment, and believes that happy employees are key to creating terrific guest experiences.
Jesse Carr was born in Athens, GA and raised between the Virginia Appalachians and Washington, D.C., spending most of his time with his grandparents who were deep-rooted southerners with a love of socializing. True to form, they always believed that it was 5 o’clock somewhere; Jesse would help out by playing bartender and crafting family favorites such as Rob Roys and their own version of Bloody Marys with scotch called “Transfusions”. He saw the true beginnings of what would later become his passion and career.
After graduating from high school and ready to stretch his legs, Jesse moved to California to attend Santa Monica College and UCLA. He began bartending at local pubs – quickly discovering his fondness for hospitality – and after some post-college travel he landed in New York City to start working with some of the greatest people in the industry. In 2011, he found a home at the James Beard Award nominee Maison Premiere in Brooklyn, where he and fellow colleagues worked tirelessly to create one of the best bars in America and the world.
In 2014, Jesse and his wife decided to move to New Orleans, a city they fell in love with many years ago during Jazz Fest and thought would be the perfect place to start a family. “I love the city, love the atmosphere, love the drink culture,” says Jesse. He is honored to be working as the Bar Director with the great team at La Petite Grocery and Balise.
Born in Waterbury, Connecticut, Paul DiMaria grew up in an Italian family that always appreciated cooking and a good meal. During high school, he took a job as a dishwasher at a local BBQ joint and quickly moved up to cook, where he truly found his calling. DiMaria enrolled in the New England Culinary Institute in 2005, and after graduating, he worked at Etta’s in Seattle, WA before moving to the Big Easy. There, he honed his skills at Bayona in the French Quarter, working under Chef Susan Spicer.
Two years later, DiMaria got an offer to help open Community Table, a farm-to-table restaurant in Washington, CT. Working with Chef Joel Vielhland, DiMaria created a vegetable-driven menu and sourced within a 100-mile radius. While at Community Table, DiMaria was approached by Chef Justin Devillier about returning to New Orleans to join his team.
In 2015, DiMaria took Chef Devillier up on his offer, beginning at La Petite Grocery and then becoming a Sous Chef at Devillier’s second restaurant, Balise, when it opened in February 2015. A year later, DiMaria was promoted to Chef de Cuisine, where he oversees the seasonal menu changes, develops new dishes, and works to keep the integrity of the concept intact. While the foundation of Balise’s menu is familiar and classic dishes, DiMaria aims to bring a creative twist and fresh perspective to dishes and ingredients.
In addition to cooking, one of DiMaria’s greatest joys is brining a positive work environment to the kitchen. “I’ve never had a better staff than at Balise. You spend so much time in the kitchen, so the bond you make with people is really special and familial,” he says. To DiMaria, success is defined by running an intimate, upscale bar and parlour, and becoming an integral part of the New Orleans food community.
When he’s not at Balise, DiMaria enjoys trying other restaurants and spending quality time with friends.