Spike Gjerde has been a definitive leader in Baltimore’s restaurant community since he burst onto the city scene with Spike & Charlie’s, which he opened with his brother in 1991. The restaurant was the first expression of Gjerde’s belief in cooking with local, seasonal ingredients, which set it apart from most places of that time and set Gjerde apart as a chef to watch.
Iowa-born and Baltimore-raised, Gjerde earned a bachelor’s degree in Philosophy and Chinese before an 18-month apprenticeship in pastry at Baltimore’s Patisserie Poupon cemented him firmly as a back of house culinary fixture. After opening Spike & Charlie’s, Gjerde began setting trends in Baltimore dining, from a neighborhood bistro jr. to the emphatically fresh seafood of Atlantic. His Joy America Café introduced a pan-Latin menu to his repertoire, and a partnership in Vespa allowed Gjerde to explore the Italian side of his creativity.
With so many projects under his belt, Gjerde’s responsibilities from 1999 to 2004 were varied and intense, just the way he likes it. He worked ceaselessly with the chef de cuisine of each restaurant to seasonally update and refine the menus, and not just on the savory side. Gjerde created seasonal dessert menus for each of his operations, and was among the very first chefs to take an active role in developing wine programs to complement his cuisine.
Woodberry Kitchen, which Gjerde opened in 2007, is the award-winning, “Top Ten Best New Restaurants” feather in the chef’s culinary cap. And it’s committed to sustainable infrastructure and local sourcing (Gjerde has about 60 Chesapeake Bay producers on his rolodex). When he’s not defining the future of Baltimore cuisine, and setting sustainability standards for a nation, Gjerde can be found working with the Chesapeake Sustainable Business Alliance, or at home, with his wife and two daughters.