Pennsylvania native Justin Hilbert got into the food business as a 14-year-old porter. Originally designed to fund his skateboarding habit, Hilbert soon progressed from lowly porter to garde manger and line cook positions. But it wasn’t until he got his hands on The French Laundry Cookbook that Hilbert got a taste of what cooking could really be.
After graduating from Johnson & Wales in 2000, Hilbert began his career across the pond, staging at the Michelin one-star George Hotel on the Isle of Wright, England. He returned to the United States to spend the next five years working in some of Philadelphia’s best restaurants. And in 2006, he traveled to Spain to experience Andoni Luis Aduriz’s dishes and masterful technique at Mugaritz.
Back stateside, Hilbert found the perfect setting in which to apply his newly acquired techniques: working under pastry rock star Alex Stupak at wd-50 in New York City. The next few years found him working as a private chef and executive chef of The Box.
In late 2011, Hilbert opened Gwynnett St. as executive chef, and in the last year he’s earned two stars from The New York Times, as well as 2013 StarChefs.com New York Rising Stars Award. Hilbert unearths the deep complexity and beauty of cooking. It’s his passion and global vision that ignites the cuisine there—and is helping put Gwynnett St. and its fair borough on the map as a national dining destination.
Why: It’s making a positive impact.
About: Edible Schoolyard teaches essential life skills through hands-on classes within a garden and kitchen classroom setting.