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.
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.
Darrick Evans, Sous Chef
Darrick Evans grew up in the California foothills and moved to San Luis Obispo in 2005 from Placerville. He entered the industry at age 16, getting his start at a steak and seafood restaurant. Darrick recalls being a quick learner when it came to cooking and embraced the demands of a busy kitchen. Choosing not go to culinary school, Darrick instead found on-the-job training to be most beneficial and has worked in everything from fine dining to corporate chains. He also credits watching numerous cooking shows to help with creativity, execution, and regional cuisine. He began at Novo in 2008, which was his opportunity to work with a style of cuisine that would be both challenging and rewarding. Darrick became sous chef in 2011 and has helped create specials, menu items, and running the kitchen during nights. Darrick continues to grow his culinary skills while helping Novo maintain its success and high standards. He credits all chefs he has worked with for being willing and able to help him grow.
Ian Holland, Kitchen Manager
Ian Holland, Novo’s Kitchen Manager, grew up in Atascadero and moved to San Luis Obispo during high school. He quickly fell in love with cooking while working at various establishments, such as Firestone Grill and Big Sky Cafe. Though his appreciation for good cooking was established in his early years by watching his grandparents cook for the family. Ian’s grandfather was an avid hunter and fisherman and his grandmother turn wild game and seafood into incredible meals.
Ian was working at Big Sky when Novo first opened in 2003. He fell in love with “Mr. Robin’s” attention to detail and passion for quality ingredients. Soon after he came onboard as a nighttime sauté cook. Ian was with Novo for many years before pursuing other opportunities for a time. In February 2016, he returned to the team with more enthusiasm than ever. He learned everyone was their own way of doing things but he says “Mr. Robin” just does it better. Additionally, Ian enjoys working with Chef Ben and says, “Chef Ben is extremely professional in his approach but also compassionate and hands-on with his crew.”
When not on the Novo line, Ian enjoys hiking and road biking on the various trails of the Central Coast with his dog and girlfriend.