“Chef Todd Johnson is a rising star in Richmond’s culinary realm . . . “ Style Weekly magazine.
While earning a business degree at NC State University, Todd took a basic kitchen job to support himself. That was all it took to light the spark of what would be his life’s avocation.
After graduation, Todd went looking for a good kitchen with a great chef who could teach him the basics of cooking. The search led him to The Trellis, a Williamsburg, Virginia restaurant proudly holding its place in the Nation’s Restaurant News Fine Dining Hall of Fame. For the next two years, Todd blossomed under the careful tutelage of the restaurant’s chef/owner, author and TV personality, Chef Marcel Desaulniers. In 2000, Chef Desaulniers pushed Todd to enroll in the Culinary Institute of America, where Desaulniers serves as a Trustee Emeritus and a Life Fellow.
Before enrolling in cooking college, Johnson took a trip to Germany’s Black Forest and met Chef Karl Hodapp, executive chef at Gasthof Rebstock. Todd then worked the balance of his 3-month visa in Kappelrodeck-Waldulm, learning technique and the magic of great local ingredients from Hodapp.
For his Culinary Institute-required internship, Todd headed west to experience first hand what was fast becoming Alice Waters’ “locally grown, organic food movement.” Then it was back to New York to finish
his culinary degree.
Todd began a fascination with Asian tapas as an intern back at Roppongi restaurant in La Jolla, California, but it was his two years as Sous Chef to Wolfgang Puck in the famed Spago restaurant in Maui that cemented his affectionate relationship with Asian cuisine. For the following year, Chef Johnson set off on a journey to “eat his way through the Far East!” While lingering in kitchens in Thailand, Viet Nam, Laos, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and even India, he began to dream of owning his own restaurant. The vision of what he wanted in the home of his new restaurant was very specific and it didn’t take long before he realized that Richmond, Virginia had it all. On Labor Day Weekend 2008, Chef Todd Johnson inked the deal that made him a Richmond restaurant owner and Mezzanine was born. For the next eight months, Todd built relationships with local farmers and suppliers so that he could remain true to the what all of his mentors taught him about good, fresh local ingredients.