A hard cider maker in the region is bringing in a Chicago chef to lead its culinary operation.
Vander Mill in Spring Lake said this week that it has hired Justin Large as its chef and culinary director.
Large will perform the duties at the company’s Spring Lake location and its upcoming Grand Rapids location.
“I am excited to have Justin as part of our team,” said Paul Vander Heide, owner, Vander Mill. “We can’t wait to showcase the combination of high-quality ciders, food and hospitality.”
Large grew up in Massachusetts and Florida before attending the University of Florida for a degree in global business management and economics. In 1999, he pursued his love of food at the Culinary Institute of America, or CIA, in Hyde Park, N.Y.
Following his CIA graduation, Large joined Paul Kahan’s Blackbird in Chicago. An internship turned into various leadership jobs with the restaurant group One Off Hospitality, including sous chef at Avec, consulting chef at The Violet Hour, tournant for The Publican and chef de cuisine at Big Star.
In 2013, he became One Off Hospitality’s director of culinary operations, where he helped open Nico Osteria and Dove’s Luncheonette. Dove’s Luncheonette was nominated as best new restaurant in 2015 by bon appétit.
Large has appeared on Food Network’s “Iron Chef” and Travel Channel’s “Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations.”
“I’m beyond excited to be a part of a company that produces an incredible product and is building a great brand,” Large said. “My goal is to make sure the food I create enhances the Vander Mill experience.”
Founded in 2006 making traditional cider, Vander Mill began making hard cider in 2008.
The Spring Lake facility underwent an expansion in 2013 to help grow the brand into one of the largest hard cider makers in the country. In 2014, Vander Mill made 225,000 gallons of cider.
Vander Mill is working on a another expansion for a production facility and restaurant in Grand Rapids at the former B&B Distributing facility, at 505 Ball Ave. NE.
The expected capacity for the facility will be one million gallons, with room to grow up to six million.