Justin Aprahamian entered the culinary world at the age of 12 helping out with his uncle’s catering company. What started as small family favors ended up being the beginning of Justin’s intrigue to the culinary field. At the age of 16, Justin applied for work at the chef-owned and operated, Steven Wades Café. Wanting to learn all aspects of a kitchen he accepted a job as dishwasher and worked his way up to garde manger. During his time at Wades, Justin graduated high school and immediately enrolled in the culinary program at Waukesha County Technical College.
At the age of 18 Justin’s eagerness and determination earned him an associate’s degree in May of 2002. At this time he joined the kitchen staff at Sanford Restaurant, then owned by renowned Great Chef Sanford D’Amato and his wife, Angie. Hired as a prep cook, his drive and passion helped him to move up the line and by 2005 was promoted to Sous Chef.
After working closely with Sandy on recipe and menu development as well as the daily function, he was named Chef de Cuisine in 2008. In 2010 and 2011 Justin was honored as a semifinalist for Rising Star Chef from the James Beard Foundation. In 2011, 2012 and 2013 he received nominations for Best Chef Midwest.
In December of 2012 Justin purchased Sanford Restaurant from his mentors and is excited to keep the traditions alive and continue to evolve over the coming years. He keeps aspects that have always made Sanford special, from the care shown to the guests, to the care shown in each ingredient.
But he is also taking steps to make this restaurant his own. Case in point, in May of 2014 he won the James Beard Award for Best Chef Midwest 2014.