I owe my love of cooking and desire to make people happy through eating and drinking entirely to my Sicilian family. I learned to cook and care for others by watching my great aunts and uncles tend small backyard gardens, sitting with them at the kitchen table while they prepared handmade feasts for enormous family lunches and holidays. After 14 years working my way up through nearly every aspect of the food business – starting in restaurant kitchens, catering companies, pie maker, personal chef to actors and directors and a stint at Formaggio Kitchen-South End – I started Uncommon Feasts in 2014.
With each event, I work to achieve that familiar feeling of the comfort, pleasure, and ease of a family meal, while presenting the food with care and elegance, and incorporating the client’s unique perspective. We are immeasurably fortunate to benefit from New England’s abundance of organically-grown produce, and meat and fish from responsibly-raised and sourced animals. Over the years I have developed trusted relationships and lasting friendships with farmers and purveyors whom I rely on for my ingredients. Preparing any given meal may mean multiple trips to Boston-area farmers’ markets, road trips up to Maine, or meeting a farmer halfway, in a parking lot by the side of the highway. We also rely on the rich community of local artisans – wood-crafters, potters, spice importers – for all of the touches – the seasonings, the plating, the aromas that fill the room – that shape each unique culinary event. We seek out beverage pairings from small importers who work exclusively with natural wines, and from local craft brewers. We manage each event as a complete service, inviting our clients to be as involved creating the event as they would like, but handling every detail from placing each napkin, to shucking every oyster, to refilling every glass, to drying each plate and fork after the meal.
Justin Shoults~ executive chef
At an early age, I showed interest in creating something with my hands in the kitchen. I can remember rolling out pasta with my mother, making cookies around Christmas, and playing “restaurant” for many dinners at home as a child. My first jobs were in restaurants. I started at a breakfast place as a dishwasher and soon moved to a pizza shop, making all of the pizzas to order. They saw that I enjoyed doing the work and put me on their line as a seventeen-year-old cook. From there, I went on to culinary school, and the rest is history.
My passion for food really took off once I attended the Culinary Institute of America and learned that being a chef was a fun, hands-on job, which I could have anywhere in the world. And I also found that being a chef meant a never-ending education in the subject of gastronomy.
Through all my traveling and working in great restaurants, I have developed a personal philosophy about cooking and food. I believe in humbly and responsibly creating wholesome dishes that I can share with guests, patrons, and friends that evoke happiness. I spend a lot of my time seeking out the best ingredients, many from local small, artisan farmers and producers. I believe in not spending too much time manipulating those ingredients to create delicious food.
My passion for food was sparked later in life after health concerns forced me to pay closer attention to what I ate. I immersed myself in reading recipes, learning ingredients/flavors and quickly realized the food industry was where I wanted to be.
I moved to Boston and received my Master’s degree in Gastronomy from Boston University. The move to Boston gave me opportunities to explore various hospitality and retail opportunities; quickly becoming a cheesemonger, manager, buyer and educator with Formaggio Kitchen South End.
This role allowed me to grow my knowledge of food systems, specifically artisanal cheese, and my appreciation for handcrafted foods. It was also where I met Michelle and began working catering events with Uncommon Feasts. For the next 5+ years I took on other full-time positions but always looked forward to creating unique dining experiences with Michelle and her team.
Through my career in the food industry I have focused my attention on education and management so when I was asked to become a part of the Uncommon Feasts Cafe team I jumped at the opportunity; giving me the chance to combine my previous work experience in entrepreneurship to help bring a new culinary business to the North Shore community. I continue to immerse myself in all things food with hopes to share my knowledge and innovative ideas with those eager to support local sourcing, small-batch production, and value where our food comes from.