Justin Nilson

Born and raised in Connecticut, Justin Nilson is a Bay Area resident and graduate of both The Academy of Art College and City College of San Francisco. A designer, artist, and self-taught cook, over the past 19 years Nilson has established himself as an award winning pastry chef and restaurant design professional. Nilson is now thrilled to join Elizabeth Blau and Kim Canteenwalla’s stellar team at their first independent venture, Honey Salt.
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Born and raised in Connecticut, Justin Nilson is a Bay Area resident and graduate of both The Academy of Art College and City College of San Francisco. A designer, artist, and self-taught cook, over the past 19 years Nilson has established himself as an award winning pastry chef and restaurant design professional. Nilson is now thrilled to join Elizabeth Blau and Kim Canteenwalla’s stellar team at their first independent venture, Honey Salt.

Nilson’s passion for cooking, pastries in particular, began as soon as he could reach the kitchen counter. He began his culinary career as a Pastry Chef with the MAX Restaurant Group in Hartford, Connecticut, at the age of 15. After a few years with MAX, Nilson moved to San Francisco to study design at The Academy of Art College, where he continued to explore his love of food and pastries by training at renowned Wolfgang Puck eatery Postrio.

Nilson eventually returned to Connecticut, assisting friend and colleague Billy Grant to open Grant’s Restaurant Bar and Patisserie. While at Grant’s, Justin was discovered by restaurateur Elizabeth Blau who brought him to Las Vegas, where together with Celebrity Chef Kerry Simon they opened Simon Kitchen and Bar in the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino. Nilson’s clean yet nostalgic and playful approach to desserts earned Simon Kitchen and Bar ‘best desserts’ in Las Vegas two years in a row, as well as many other mentions in national publications. Nilson proceeded to help Elizabeth Blau and Chef Kerry Simon open several other restaurant projects, including: Simon Telluride, Simon LA, Simon at Palms Place, Cat House at Luxor Las Vegas Hotel and Casino, and Simon Prime at The Atlantic City Hilton Casino.

Overlapping his culinary projects, Nilson ventured back into the world of design as a restaurant designer for Designer Todd Avery Lenahan, TAL – Studio. There he worked with such clients as Wynn Resorts, Ritz Carlton, Mandarin Oriental, Four Seasons, Shangri-La Hotels and Kimpton Hotels to name a few. His warm and sophisticated contemporary design for Wolfgang Puck’s CUT restaurant in the Palazzo Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas and Casino, again won him and the design firm awards and international media recognition. After eight amazing years in Las Vegas, Nilson decided to return to the San Francisco Bay Area, where he has continued his consulting work in all creative areas concerning food and restaurants.

Nilson’s pastry approach at Honey Salt is a reflection of the down-home, simple desserts he remembers from his childhood. Delicious cakes, pies, and cookies are all on offer, those desserts that Nilson and Blau describe as “all you really need.” When he’s not working on Honey Salt desserts or his other consulting projects, Nilson can be found volunteering as a chef for “Cooking with Sprouts,” a non-profit organization that inspires kids to cook. He enjoys camping and skiing, spontaneous day trips, and eating out as much as possible.