Executive Chef Robert Holt
The kitchen at Campo is led by Executive Chef Robert Holt, who brings over two decades of culinary experience to the kitchen, with long-term leadership roles at some of the Bay Area's best restaurants, and farm-to-table food training that can be traced back to his upbringing in rural Texas.
At Campo, Holt taps into his diverse culinary history, as well as his extensive travels throughout Italy, to create bold, rustic Italian and Mediterranean dishes influenced by Italy's neighboring regions. He gleaned hands on experience by touring Italy (Sicily, Emilia Romagna, Liguria, Amalfi Coast, Tuscany, Venice, Alto Adige area) and staying at agriturismos – family farms with accommodations that allow guests to work, eat, and sleep on the property. Sicily has made the greatest impact on his style; his stay with a local family produced his penchant for simple, clean, bright flavors and ingredients like olives, lemons, and raisins. He also counts octopus, spring onions, green garlic, and sardines as some of his favorite supplies to utilize in his constantly evolving culinary repertoire.
Before Campo, Holt served as executive chef of Marzano in Oakland, where his rustic, robust Italian food and perfect pizza won loyal fans and a three-star review from San Francisco Chronicle Critic Michael Bauer. As opening chef, Holt was responsible for Marzano's menu development and culinary execution since the restaurant's debut in December 2008.
Prior to Marzano, Holt worked at some of the city's most iconic restaurants including Joyce Goldstein's Square One, Boulevard, Acquerello, and Cetrella in Half Moon Bay – where he first met and worked with Campo owners Paul and Julie Shenkman (who were then Cetrella's owners), and chef Lewis Rossman. He's also garnered experience working alongside James Beard Award winning chef Stephen Pyles at Star Canyon restaurant in Dallas, Texas, and as chef de cuisine for highly acclaimed chef Melissa Kelly at Primo restaurant in Rockland, Maine – whom he credits for instilling knowledge and passion for using the best, freshest ingredients. At Primo, every day started with a gardener/chef meeting during which the staff would learn the ingredients harvested from the property's three-acre farm that would dictate the day's menu.
Holt was raised in the suburbs of east Texas, where he tended his family's farm and learned the true definition of farm-to-table from his father, who was a dairy farmer and an avid fisherman. His family – father, mother, and two brothers – still reside in Texas. He lives with his wife, Hu Jin, in Castro Valley, Calif.