Lucia chef says ciao and heads to neighboring restaurant Driftwood
Justin Holt, a cook at critically lauded Lucia restaurant in Bishop Arts, is leaving to work at another restaurant right up the street: Driftwood. If his name sounds familiar, that's because Holt is the chef who was doing a pop-up ramen shop in Bishop Arts on weekend nights.
"I've been at Lucia around two years," Holt says. "I learned a whole bunch and had a great journey. But I'd like to get into a different cuisine. I've never worked in a strictly fish restaurant."
He says that the encouragement of Lucia chef-owner David Uygur was key to his pursuit of the ramen pop-up idea.
"He pushed me to do something I felt passionate about," Holt says. "He said he thought I made good ramen and that I ought to try a pop-up. We were just having it for the restaurant family meal and I was making it at home for buddies. It went over really well."
The pop-up is how he met Omar Flores, chef at Driftwood, with whom he'll be working. "I knew about him through the chef community," he says. "My girlfriend is a chef at FT33. And then Omar came to one of my ramen nights."
He leaves Lucia on May 18 and starts at Driftwood on the 21st. With the transition to his new job, Holt said he's putting a temporary hold on the ramen operation. "It's a tremendous volume of work to make it," he says. "It's not my intent to stop it. I just need to take a bit of time to settle in to my new job before setting up my next ramen gig."
Lucia owner Jennifer Uygur says they've already started interviewing candidates (email email@example.com). "We'd like someone who's a good fit and wants to work somewhere small and work with whole pig butchery," she says.
"We haven't had a lot of change or turnover. People like to stay. But we're excited that one of our guys has an opportunity to go do something cool."