Todd Jurich’s Bistro

Todd Jurich has nurtured a generation of star chefs in Norfolk.

In 1992, as American chefs obsessed over fusion and nouvelle cuisine, with its spartan portions, Todd Jurich opened his namesake bistro, pioneering fine dining in downtown Norfolk.

His farm-to-table menus celebrated American regional dishes while his popovers and pumpkin crab soup, made with jumbo lump, have become signature dishes. Jurich’s kitchen, meanwhile, became a talent incubator for a generation of chefs in Virginia and beyond. “We’ve got quite the alumni from the Bistro,” says Jurich. “Many are executive chefs, or own their own restaurants.”

Chicago chef Graham Elliot, a three-time James Beard award nominee, has appeared on Iron Chef, Top Chef Masters, and served as a judge on Top Chef and Master Chef, recalls his days as culinary student in Jurich’s kitchen. When he got a pasta dish “horribly wrong,” Jurich threw it out, dressed him down, then mentored him to refine his skills. Jurich also stoked big dreams, introducing Elliot and others in the kitchen to menus and cookbooks from big-city restaurants and celebrated chefs. 

“Todd was the first to do that for me,” says Elliot. “The Charlie Trotter book he showed me inspired me to pick up and move—I eventually worked with Charlie Trotter and other great names. Yeah, I messed up that pasta, but I’ve also gone on to do some incredible jobs.”

A Bistro’s Legacy

In addition to Graham Elliot, Todd Jurich’s Bistro launched the careers of a dozen chef-owners, including:

  • Willie Moats: 350 Grace, Norfolk
  • Harper Bradshaw: Harper’s Table, Suffolk
  • Kevin Ordonez: Alkaline in Norfolk and Baby Izakaya in Virginia Beach
  • Pete Evans: Orzo Kitchen & Wine Bar, Charlottesville
  • Branden Levine: Sel, Scottsdale, Arizona
  • Sam McGann: formerly of The Blue Point, Duck, N.C.
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