As Oak + Rowan’s Executive Chef, the affable and innovative Justin Shoults challenges his kitchen team by example to best themselves daily with creatively presented delicacies from land and sea crowned with beautiful local harvests. His goal: to make his guests hungry at first glance. Named one of Zagat Boston’s “30 Under 30,” Chef Shoults’ culinary sensibility of ‘less is more’ mirrors his cooking: unpretentious, curious, authentic, and fun, favoring skill over speed. His immaculate attention to presentation and imaginative flavor pairings are reflected in dishes such as: Squid Ink Farfalle with pheasant, uni, and lemon, Baby Octopus with bone marrow and hazelnut, and a playful Lamb Trio of tartar, braised shank, and tenderloin with polenta, parsnip, and red kale.
Prior to his current position at Oak + Rowan, Chef Shoults made the move to Newburyport, departing Nantucket’s famous Oran Mor Bistro, where he worked under Chef-Owner Chris Freeman. At the time, the restaurant for which he was being hired did not exist. His instincts were to trade the sure bet of a popular coastal restaurant – at which he was well-established – for the adventure of being in on the ground floor for Caswell Restaurant Group’s highly anticipated second restaurant, BRINE. Beyond caviars and the popular daily ‘sausage de la casa,’ the vast crudo repertoire BRINE acquired under his guidance has become the restaurant’s signature.
Moving throughout Oak + Rowan, the hardworking and understated Chef Shoults, in his faded Red Sox cap instead of a toque, keeps the integrity of the food and guest experience his top priorities. His cap is likely the only personal deviation from the disciplined kitchen he emulates from his mentor, Certified Master Chef Harmut Handke. This rare apprenticeship proved formative for the Culinary Institute of America grad from the Buckeye State, who every day strives for Chef Handke’s marker of a successful restaurant: consistency.
A member of the national Chefs Collaborative network, Chef Shoults aims to use his culinary talents to benefit others, participating in charity events such as Boston’s Chefs In Shorts and BRINE’s own annual “Cancer Shucks” initiative, for which he has helped raise $100,000 over the past two years.