Chef Spike Gjerde of Woodberry Kitchen - Biography

Baltimore, MD

August 2014

Spike Gjerde burst onto the Baltimore food scene in 1991, when he opened Spike & Charlie’s with his brother. That restaurant was the first expression of Gjerde’s belief in cooking with local, seasonal ingredients, setting it, and its chef, apart—well ahead of its time. Iowa-born and Baltimore-raised, Gjerde actually earned a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and Chinese. But an equally rigorous 18-month apprenticeship in pastry at Baltimore’s Patisserie Poupon changed the course of his life. After opening Spike & Charlie’s, Gjerde continued setting trends in Baltimore dining, from the neighborhood bistro, jr., to the emphatically fresh seafood of Atlantic to the pan-Latin menu of Joy America Café. A partnership in Vespa even allowed Gjerde to explore the Italian side of his creativity.

Gjerde remained hands on and true to his principles as his empire expanded, working ceaselessly with the chefs de cuisine of each restaurant to seasonally update and refine the menus. Woodberry Kitchen, the award-winning restaurant, which Gjerde opened in 2007, is arguably the crowning feather in the chef’s culinary cap, where Gjerde’s matured, refined cuisine also serves to broadcast an enduring commitment to sustainability (Gjerde has about 60 Chesapeake Bay producers on his Rolodex).

Gjerde isn’t just feeding Baltimore, he’s populating it, reusing and reinventing spaces with a slew of new concepts, including Artifact Coffee, sustainably comfortable Shoo-Fly Diner, and Parts & Labor, a butcher shop and restaurant that have transformed the 5,000 foot space of a former car repair shop with whole animal butchery, local products, and homegrown cuisine.