Joel and Will have been working together off and on since 2010 when they first met at Park Kitchen. They quickly realized they shared similar ideas about food and bourbon, and went on to open the Bent Brick. Both have been around food their entire lives, and worked in professional kitchens from a young age. Growing up in Cleveland, Will worked at his dad's 24 hour diners from the time he was in elementary school, all the way through high school. Since moving to Portland in 2005, he's worked at Le Pigeon as well as his time at Park Kitchen and The Bent Brick. Before the start of Holdfast, he was travelling on a culinary tour of Europe and Iceland. As a Portland native, Joel decided he wanted to cook in the sixth grade, setting his sights on the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park. After graduating and returning to Portland, he has worked at Noble Rot and 50 Plates besides the time he worked alongside Will. Most recently he is returning to Portland from Chicago, where he was the sous chef at the two Michelin starred Graham Elliot Restaurant.
Even with the demanding schedule of working in the service industry, both Will and Joel have made time to travel and spend time in restaurants around the world. Between the two of them they have been in the kitchens of: Alinea, Arzak, Dill, The French Laundry, The Herbfarm, Manresa, McCrady's, Mirazur, Relae, Septime, Ubuntu, and The Willow's Inn. Holdfast is their way of bringing back what they have learned from those adventures, and sharing it with guests from across the counter.
Jeff Vejr is the beverage director at Holdfast, or jokingly known as "the winesman". Originally from New Hampshire, Jeff has been a Portlander for many years. He has an obsession with wines that are made using sustainable practices which often harken back to ancient methods. He first met Joel and Will when he was running Alu, a wine bar up the road on MLK Boulevard. If you ever dined at Sauvage, the restaurant that used to be housed in the Holdfast space, you may recognize Jeff as he managed the wine program there as well.
Like Joel and Will, he has spent much time traveling throughout the world, bringing a unique perspective to his beverage pairings. Jeff is also a winemaker himself under the "Golden Cluster" label. You can find his wine around town in shops such as Cork, Storyteller, E & R, and Valley Wine Merchants.