Chef Pepe was born and raised in Niagara-on-the-Lake. He started out working locally for the Vintage Inns. After college, Chef Pepe headed out west to work for the Fairmont Company, at Chateau Lake Louise in Alberta. After over two years spent with the company, he moved down to Grand Cayman in the Caribbean, where he worked for the Westin Group, at the Westin St. Francis Casuarina Resort and Spa. Missing the mountains, he decided to head back to the west side of Canada, to Vancouver. This is where he decided to go back to school to further his culinary knowledge, at Northwest Culinary Academy. While going to school, he continued working, taking a job working for the Top Table Group, Blue Water Cafe, and Cin Cin. Over 3 years were spent between the two; he left Blue Water to work for the Wedgewood Hotel, part of the Relais and Chateau group for 3 more years. Tiring of the big city life, Chef moved to the Lower Mainland, 45 minutes outside Vancouver. He took a job as an assistant wine maker/farm hand, and was leading a much simpler life, making wine, and growing heirloom vegetables. However, after a few years, his passion for cooking could not be held back any longer. Wanting to take his cooking more seriously, and gain some accreditation in the industry, Justin joined Tap Restaurant, a local french bistro, where he apprenticed under red seal Chef Alistair Veen. It was here where he honed his skills on the business end of the food industry, and went back to school to challenge his red seal accreditation.
Chef Pepe has now moved back to his hometown of Niagara-on-the-Lake to give back to the community in which he grew up, flavours, techniques, and tastes, he has learned on his travels. Also, being a new father, he has been gearing his meals towards family, while still using the same classic french techniques, he has used in the kitchens that he has worked in around the