Justin recognized his passion for food while moving up the ranks at a Mediterranean restaurant in high school. However, as the old saying goes, "Birds of a feather, Flock together," as he too began to help in the kitchen at 5 years old. Justin has been in this industry for over 24 years, but has lived a lifetime in this industry through living and working in many countries/states in various areas of the service industry in a cooking capacity. He has many stories to tell. Just ask him, he will tell you.
Justin says his real connection made with food became extremely clear while cooking for 50 people out of one giant wok over a wood fire on the beach of Costa Rica, for a Full Moon Festival. "Everyone would pick food off the trees or dig up roots and bring them to me and I would have to come up with something everyday," Justin explains. Pretty cool, if you ask me.
When asked what he likes about being part of the Team MPEC his reply was, "It really is a family environment here at Ms P's, which means sibling squabbling and a lot of laughter and inside jokes. We definitely have fun working, and I like cooking real food, no glitz, no glam, no foo foo, just straight from your grandma's kitchen good cooking."
Justin and I met through a mutual friend that I had mentioned to that I was looking for a strong lead Chef. Justin and I spoke for the first time for over 2 hours on the phone and I believe I literally hired him after that conversation on the spot. It's hard to hand over your business to someone else and trust that they will share your dream and carry it out as you have and you do. Well, Justin has not only bought into The Dream, he has become one of the key players that is making The Dream a reality. Justin is one of the most talented/loyal people I know and while we are much alike in many ways, we also have a difference of opinion that always seems to meet in the middle and becomes a better way of doing business.
When asked what he loves most about Austin, Justin says, "I like the historical aspects of Austin, it has a very colorful past. It's also centrally located so it's easy to take day trips to Wimberley, Fredericksburg, the Hill Country or the lake. And Austin is a very nature minded city - even the development is surrounded by greenbelts and parks."
Justin says, "When I'm not slinging chicken, I like to travel whenever possible. I have friends all over the country and Europe and I try and visit when I can. I also have two antique cars that take up my time as well as enjoying my sweet and beautiful girlfriend, Sierra."
His favorite expression is "HAKUNA MATATA"!!!
It means "no worries" for the rest of your days!
I say "no worries" way too much, but I prefer "Hakuna Matata."