Executive Chef Justin Brunson brings close to two decades of culinary experience to Brunson & Co., his family of restaurants in Denver, CO that include Old Major, Masterpiece Delicatessen, Masterpiece Kitchen, and The Royal Rooster. His passion for heritage-raised meats, sustainable seafood, and ingredients sourced from local farms reaches beyond the Denver city limits. Brunson travels the country sharing his unique point of view and inspiration, while sharing stories and tapping into the pulse of the industry. Born and raised to an Iowan farming family, Brunson’s childhood was spent gardening, hunting, and fishing. These activities along with his agricultural roots have helped to mold his passion for food and its preparation.
Brunson attended Scottsdale’s LeCourdon Bleu College of Culinary Arts and obtained an internship in 2001 with renowned Chef Michael DiMaria at Michael’s at the Citadel. Michael hired and extensively trained Brunson for the next several years, which helped ignite his true passion for food and cooking. In 2004, Brunson moved to Denver and helped open Zengo with Chef-Owner Richard Sandoval. Two years later, he joined award-winning Chef Frank Bonanno as his Sous Chef at Luca D’Italia and filled in at Mizuna when help was needed. In 2008, Brunson worked at Fruition all while he was in the process of opening up his own business, Masterpiece Delicatessen.
In 2011, Brunson launched the Denver Bacon Company, a locally produced, dry-cured, peachwood smoked, thick cut and sweetened with maple sugar bacon. During the summer of 2012, Brunson completed a 30-day internship in New York at Fleisher’s, a sustainable butcher shop under master butcher Josh Applestone where he furthered his knowledge and skills with sustainable meats and butchery. In 2013 Brunson opened Old Major, with a focus on heritage-raised meats from Colorado farms creating contemporary farmhouse cuisine.
The popularity of Masterpiece Delicatessen demanded a second location in Denver’s financial district. In 2014, the Masterpiece’s Uptown location opened, showcasing a fine dining chef’s take on a sandwich shop. Brunson’s passion for food, and love of fried chicken, prompted him to open a pop up lunch spot in the Old Major bar in 2015 dubbed Royal Rooster, featuring the infamous Old Major fried chicken thighs in a sandwich format. In Spring 2016, Masterpiece Kitchen, a neighborhood restaurant focused on seasonal shared plates opened in Lowry.
Brunson opened Culture, a meat and cheese shop, located in The Denver Central Market in Fall 2016. Additionally, Brunson is sponsored by the National Pork Board.