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Justin Carlisle
Renegade Chef

Justin Carlisle – the former Umami Moto chef who spent late summer knee-deep in construction of his 15-seat solo project, Ardent – has a progressive, yet sentimental cooking style. Step 1 in this maturing process was growing up on a farm in Sparta, where his dad raised cattle and his body developed, courtesy of a diet rich in honest, simple farm food. Step 2 was entering the culinary program at Madison Area Technical College. Folded in were a number of cooking gigs – from Madison’s Restaurant Muramoto and 43 North to Chicago’s Tru. Carlisle’s 2011 move to Milwaukee added to this varied stew the Asian-fusion restaurant Umami Moto, where his lobster chowder was a movie with an extravagant, thought-provoking plot. The 34-year-old’s departure from Umami earlier this year yielded a more driven, focused chef – committed to opening a place on his own terms, sans investors and contractors. The 900-square-foot East Side space gives him leave to act as chef, sommelier, server and barista. And he still considers Grandma Carlisle (well, and French chef/idol Joel Robuchon) the inspirations for his pureed potatoes.

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