Justin Smillie was born in Upland, California, but raised in Hunterdon County, New Jersey, where he began his career at 17 as part of the team of the Bernards Inn, under Edward Stone. From there, Justin moved to NYC where he spent time at Jean Georges, Mercer Kitchen and Gramercy Tavern, before landing with Jonathan Waxman at Washington Park, and later as the chef of Barbuto.
It was during his six years under the attentive eye of Waxman, that Justin fell in love with bold flavors, rustic technique, open fire, and farm-to-table cooking.
In 2010, chef Daniel Silverman invited him to be part of the opening team of Andre Balaz's New York Standard, where he worked as a sous chef and then as the Executive Chef of Sunset Beach on Shelter Island for two seasons. Fortune found him one afternoon when Justin was introduced to Donna Lennard of Il Buco.
During his time as executive chef of Il Buco Alimentari e Vineria, Justin incorporated the "farmer's market" driven cuisine he loves and earned a three-star review from the New York Times. In October 2014, Justin and Stephen Starr opened Upland, a Cal-Ital Brasserie in Flatiron. The restaurant is named for Justin’s hometown and is built around a culinary philosophy that takes heavy cues from the seasons. Justin lives with his wife and two sons in Hoboken, New Jersey.