Justin Bazdarich’s childhood in Kansas City, Kansas, was always centered on food. And though he briefly flirted with a future in product design as a student Arizona State University, he fell back on cooking when he realized college life wasn’t for him. What Bazdarich did pick up in college was best friend and fellow food lover, Todd Feldman.
The pair dreamed of opening their own restaurant one day, but before Bazdarich had his own place, he would spend years opening restaurants for Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten. The young chef moved to New York City in 2001 to attend the French Culinary Institute, and through, Bazdarich scored an internship at Jean Georges. In three years, he grew from intern to sous chef and then worked as opening chef at Perry Street. Two years later, Bazdarich signed on as a chef trainer for Vongerichten’s Culinary Concepts, launching 15 restaurants in far flung locations, including Istanbul, Qatar, Cabo, and Las Vegas.
Returning to the States in 2010, Bazdarich teamed up with Feldman to build a business in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn. Before opening Speedy Romeo, Bazdarich learned the art of wood-fired cooking, working at Roman’s under Chef David Gould. He and Feldman also traveled in Italy to learn the traditions of Italian butchers, chefs, and pizzaiolos. Speedy Romeo launched in late 2011 with Bazdarich cranking out pizzas from a wood-burning oven and steaks and dishes from a wood-fired grill. In 2013, Bazdarich was named a 2013 StarChefs.com New York Rising Star.