Justin’s last hurrah

MollyFIG Uncategorized 15 Comments

Almost 13 years ago Molly and I scraped together $2000 and decided to start our own catering company; FIG was born and it has been quite the rollercoaster ride. I have had the pride and joy of working with very talented and unique people over these years – chefs and cooks who are some of the most creative and hard-working people in Chicago (a city full of culinary talent), interns who became office managers who became event managers and all along the way have worked with even the most stubborn clients to grow FIG to where it is today, service staff who are also writers, doctors, artists, teachers, actors, dog walkers, etc. and constantly amaze me with their versatility and willingness to absorb the FIG philosophy and represent it. Beyond our company walls I have also worked with great vendors, farmers, collaborators, and other small business owners that helped us satisfy quirky requests and accomplish amazing feats of catering, often at the last minute.


I have also been lucky enough to work for uncountable awesome clients – brides and grooms on their “biggest” of days, famous actors, athletes, intellectuals, and politicians, birthday celebrants from 1-90, sustainable businesses that wanted their catering to live up to their goals, and so many more. I have watched wedding ceremonies with eyes full of tears as two women finally, legally took their vows in front of their grandchildren. I have listened, from the kitchen, as Steve Edwards and Austan Goolsbee (voices that as an avid public radio listener I’m very attuned to) spoke. I have felt pride, as a guest, watching my team feed and care for my family at my brother’s wedding. I have cooked in some of the smallest and largest homes in the city and been equally welcome into both. And, I can’t forget to mention, catering for Vice President Biden.

I couldn’t have done any of this without the love and support of friends and family who continue to invite us to do thing and be places that we usually can’t “because we have an event.” Not to mention all of them who hired us to cater their events in the beginning of our business and gave us the money and confidence to keep going. It’s nice to know they are always there.

Most of all I have been lucky enough to work side-by-side with the woman who helped me make this all possible, the love of my life, Molly. If it were not for her passion, strength, love, and constant hardwork and dedication, FIG surely would not have stood a chance. She makes all of this possible and does so with the steadiest of hands and immeasurable will. This journey has not always been easy and there have been many literal “blood, sweat and tears” moments, but I would not trade it for anything.

Now-ish (Photo by Steve Ewert)

All of this being said, I have decided to step down as the head chef and co-operator at FIG. I am not sure of what new adventures lie ahead, but, although I have been thrilled to help FIG grow to where it is, I don’t feel I have the passion it requires to continue. I may have to take over laundry duty at home to free up Molly’s time to get FIG through this transition, but I know she (and the rest of the team) will.

If you are reading this, I just want to thank you for being a part of FIG and part of my life! I hope you’ll stick around to see the changes at FIG and what’s next for me.

Comments 15

  1. Oh Justin, such a big step into the unknown but I applaud you for being willing to make a change and not just keepin’ on to keep on. Congratulations on all you have accomplished and I wish you peace and fulfillment on the road ahead. Also we should have a beer (or something!) sometime …

  2. Dearest First Born,
    This is a beautiful, all encompassing letter filled with love and hope! We are so proud of this life affirming decision you’ve made! Our dear Molly’s willingness to support this life change is very remarkable as well.
    You are so creative and adventuresome and the sky’s the limit! Love you …Mom and Dad

  3. Love you and Molly! From laughing on a rooftop in Pilsen to silent service in some of the oldest homes in the city, it has always been not only a pleasure, but a good time as well. Ahh, the Bear school, that is where we first met, and I always think of FIG when i drive by it. It has been an honor and I am excited to see what’s next!

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  4. Wow!! Can’t wait to hear what is next for you!! We are very grateful to have had you at some milestone events in the Koziol/Baustad family!!! ?

  5. Wow!!! Can’t wait to hear what is in store for you next!! We are very grateful to have had you with us for some big milestones in the Koziol/Baustad family!

  6. Congrats, Justin, on your huge endeavor with Fig and wherever your next steps take you. Always fun working together, brother.

    Many Cheers,


  7. Justin: I’m so very glad to read this open letter of awesomeness and I’m excited for what the future will hold for you & Molly. Your insight, efforts, and dedication worked triple time to get Next Bites off the ground, and you spent quite a few years being one of my biggest cheerleaders. Now it’s my turn: You’re gonna do amazing things!!! Moving out of one headspace only leaves the right kinda room for another, better headspace to open up. Congratulations on you for having the self-awareness and foresight to ‘be the change’. Woo hoo!!!! Keep me in mind (as you’re folding laundry–or enjoying cooking at home) if there’s ever anything you’d like my help with. I don’t know what to offer, but the offer is so totally there, sir. Big, big hugs…

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