call it a comeback

Houston's Chopped champion cooks up exciting comeback story

Houston's Chopped champion cooks up exciting comeback story

Justin Turner generation park
Chef Justin Turner has a new job. Photo by Kimberly Park

Chef Justin Turner has a new job. The founder of Bernie's Burger Bus will now work as the Director of Culinary Hospitality for Gastropub Productions, a newly formed hospitality company.

In his new role, Turner will help develop restaurant concepts for Generation Park, a massive, 4,200-acre mixed use development near Lake Houston. McCord, the real estate development firm that hired Turner for the role, sees Gastropub Productions as a way to entice businesses to the project.

"Creating hospitality and restaurant concepts that have the flexibility to change as the restaurant industry does is key in making these concepts succeed for generations to come," McCord president Ryan McCord said in a statement. "We’re honored to have Justin’s expertise and creativity on our team and look forward to what he will bring to our community.”  

That expertise and creativity extends beyond burgers. Prior to founding Bernie's — the food truck-turned-restaurant that spawned four locations before closing in May — Turner worked as the personal chef for NBA star Shane Battier when he played for both the Memphis Grizzlies and Houston Rockets. His resume also includes time as a chef in both Memphis and his hometown of Chicago. 

Details are light on the specific concepts, although a representative confirmed Turner will lead the opening of three new restaurants by summer 2021. Regardless, the chef has shown a knack for a number of cuisines, as he demonstrated when he won an episode of Chopped in 2016. Turner once hosted a Korean-inspired pop-up at Bernie's in conjunction with Burger Joint chef Matthew Pak and served a four course menu centered around duck dishes at a pop-up.

"McCord’s vision for the future of Generation Park is unlike anything Houston has seen," Turner added. "The past few months have been challenging for the industry but I’m confident about the future of hospitality and what we’re creating at Generation Park. I’m excited to craft new and intriguing culinary experiences for the city of Houston to enjoy in our first new, brick and mortar concept opening in Redemption Square next year.” 

Generation Park's Redemption Square development is already home to two restaurants from Michael Collins, the veteran Houston restaurateur behind Blue Fish Sushi in Midtown, downtown gastropub Bovine & Barley, and others. Wholesome Kitchen, an eclectic restaurant with a globally-inspired menu, and Wholesome Pies, a pizzeria, both opened in 2019.