Meet the Man Behind the Madness: Chef Griz
From scenic Chesapeake, Virginia, to the skyscrapers of New York, and currently home to historic Savannah, Georgia, Chef Justin “Griz” Grizzard has found his culinary calling on the East Coast.
Now the Executive Chef at The Ordinary Pub, he is creating a foodie culture unlike anywhere else.
Since just a teen at age 16, starting out as a cook for Fuddruckers Cafe, food has been his yellow brick road. Today, he’s come quite a long way since these early corporate days.
As a graduate of The Culinary Institute of America in New York, ranked number 1 culinary school in the United States, he learned the ropes of the cooking realm with some of the world's top premier chefs.
He went back to Virginia to complete work on and help open a $91 million hotel on the Virginia Beach waterfront. He started working on the kitchen line, but would dabble in every station.
Grizzard was also the Sous Chef on a Mississippi cruise line, until the company went bankrupt. He says that it was his second favorite place he’s worked, besides where he now abodes.
Being in Savannah eight years, Grizzard has worked six different jobs. He’s gone from the Mansion to the Bohemian, to North Beach Bar and Grill on Tybee, and more, but none were where his heart lied.
He was offered the Executive Chef position at a new restaurant, but he informed them that he would think about it and put them on hold.
“I walked down the stairs and Mike [the owner] and Chef Star were sitting at table 7. I handed him my resume, told him I wanted to work here, and he asked me if I could start that night,” Grizzard explained how he started at The Ordinary Pub. “I go, YES!”
And from there, it was history. After flopping from place to place but never fully being satisfied, Grizzard found exactly where he belonged. The Ordinary Pub had the atmosphere fit for him and a menu that he wanted to cook and build upon.
“We call ourselves ‘reimagined’ pub fare. That was the saying before I even got here, and I just love reimagining food,” Grizzard said. “Now I can do it every day. This is exactly what I want to do.”
It’s been two years since he walked down into the Broughton Street basement. Since, Chef Griz has redefined the pub’s culture, bringing in exotic ideas to the menu for guests to experience something unique and quite “Ordinary”.
The brunch menu is specifically his baby, where he’s taken lowcountry classics and turned them into more of a modern art. Instead of the basic chicken and waffles entree, for instance, he gives you the Chicken & Waffle Gyro: crispy fried chicken, herb mascarpone cream cheese, house-made honey poblano sauce, a soft waffle flat bread, and a side of bourbon maple syrup. *Drooling just typing that out*
One of Chef Griz’s favorite meals to cook for the pub is the Braised Short Ribs and Kimchi: Hoisin braised beef short rib with bacon fried rice, kohlrabi kimchi, and a roasted red pepper chili sauce.
“It’s one of the most technical dishes that everyone knows, but doesn’t know just how much goes into it.”
What’s his favorite meal to cook in general, though? One word: Gumbo. “It’s one of the most technical dishes that everyone knows, but doesn’t know just how much goes into it,” Grizzard explained. Making the rue, sweating down the vegetables, and timing the perfect moment to add the seafood are just three steps in a long, eight hour process it takes Grizzard to complete his gumbo.
The restaurant has featured gumbo specials and gumbo tacos, but it hasn’t found it’s permanent home on the menu – partly because this eight hour process would have a hard time squeezing into the chef’s already jam-packed schedule.
As a husband, father of two eight month old twins known as the “grizlets”, and now the Executive Chef at The Ordinary Pub for over a month, Chef Justin Grizzard is creating his own story for Savannah.
“My crew in the back is the best I’ve ever worked with, far none,” Grizzard describes. “I’m very lucky.”
Catch Chef Grizzard at The Ordinary Pub and try some of his original creations. You may hear him singing along to Bon Jovi and the radio, but that’s just the kind of cool guy he is.