While pursuing a degree at the University of South Florida, Chef J. Ward decided to pursue a career in culinary arts. He got his start cooking at Shells Seafood Restaurant. From there he went on to work for other restaurants including, Michael’s Grill and Mise En Place. Ward also lived in Europe as a child, inspiring his love for great cuisine.  In 2009, Ward was named Executive Chef at the St. Pete Brasserie in St. Petersburg, FL. He remained there for a number of years, until he joined the staff as Co- Executive Chef at one Michael Stewart’s newest concepts in Tampa. Ava, co-owned by major league manager and World Series champion Joe Maddon, serves up inspired Italian cuisine prepared in a simple and rustic.