The Artists Behind the Food

Executive Chef Ben Richardson

Ben graduated from the California Culinary Academy in 1996.  He worked in the Bay Area and Central Valley for several years before moving to the Central Coast in 2003.  Ben was hired as the chef at Novo prior to the restaurant's opening which allowed him to play a roll in the original menu design, while building new relationships with the local farmers in the area.  In 2008, Ben co-founded Two Cooks Catering.  After three years of catering throughout the Central Coast, Ben began teaching at Cuesta College.  Whole foods along with meat and seafood butchery were the focus of his curriculum.  He returned to Novo in 2013, picking up where he left off working as the kitchen manager for 2 years before taking over as Executive Chef.  Ben lives in San Luis Obispo with his wife and two boys.

Chef Matt Wheeler

Chef Matt Wheeler is a graduate of California Culinary Academy.  Matt moved to the Central Coast after graduating in 2006 and found work in several restaurants in the area (Lido, Full of Life Flatbread & Cafe Roma).  In 2012, Matt and his wife opened their own homebased bakery and in 2013 Matt was hired at Novo.   Matt lives in Nipomo with his wife and two daughters.




Chef Elijah Blackburn

Chef Elijah Blackburn was born in San Luis Obispo and raised in Sonoma County.  Elijah has always worked in the food industry, with the majority of his experience as a fine dining server in some of San Francisco and Sonoma county's premier restaurants.  Elijah completed a Culinary Arts certification through Santa Rosa Junior College in 2007 and he worked in several small farm-to-table restaurants in Sonoma and Marin County, before moving back to San Luis Obispo in 2012. Elijah operated a Private Chef Service for luxury vacation rentals in Santa Rosa for 2 years.  He has also travelled the world extensively, which inspires the creative flavor profiles depicted through his cuisine.  His favorite ethnic food cultures are European, Southeast Asian, Middle Eastern, Indian and Latin American.

Jennifer Harmon, Pastry Chef

Jennifer grew up on the Central Coast. She has worked in the industry since the age of 15, with most of her experience working in upscale establishments. She received her Culinary Arts degrees in 2005 at Columbia College. Before her employment at Novo Restaurant, she acted as Sous Chef at the Columbia City Hotel. She was also Executive Chef at Maher's Pub in Lake Oswego, Oregon. Her passion has always been for baking and being creative in the Pastry world. She has worked at Novo since 2011 as Banquet Chef, before taking over as Pastry Chef towards the end of 2014. She strives to keep the dessert menu fresh, with multiple seasonal changes, utilizing local ingredients. She is always looking forward to the change of the season for inspiring new ideas.