"For some people, food is just what you do...for me, it's my life."
Born in Rochester, New York, Joseph Thomas Cipolla found his passion for cooking at an early age: from watching his Greek grandmother cook everything from scratch. "This is why they keep coming back," she said to young Joseph. Later, when he heard stories that he was the only one she ever let into her kitchen, he knew where his heart belonged: the kitchen.
As soon as he could work, Joseph made his way to the kitchen, from prepping food at various restaurants at age 14 to assuming the role as sous chef at a local Italian bistro at age 17. Realizing he was ready for his next step, Joseph moved to New York City, where he attended the French Culinary Institute, studying haute cuisine under the tutelage of Jacques Pepin and Andre Soltner.
With an education in hand, he landed a plum position at The Pearl Room, a Brooklyn based seafood restaurant owned by renowned executive chef Anthony Rinaldi. In record speed, Joseph, now 20, worked his way to sous chef. Soon thereafter, the Pearl Room earned an American Michelin star, the only restaurant in Brooklyn at the time to carry such an honor. Continuing his ascent, he moved on to manage Restaurant 101 in Staten Island, where he made the must-watch list for young chefs.
In 2006, Chef Cipolla moved back to Rochester, New York to open and serve as executive chef at the acclaimed downtown restaurant Eros. From there, the prestigious Genesee Valley Club recruited him for the lead chef position at their onsite restaurant, the Armstrong Grill. A chef on the rise, he was then snapped up by Monroe Country Club, one of Rochester's most elite clubs, to be their seafood and game chef de partie under executive chef Frank Mirabile.
Eager to start his own business, Chef Cipolla took his career to the streets in 2011, buying his first food cart: Scratch Open Kitchen, a gourmet food cart and catering company. Two years later, he partnered with David Romaine of Lettuce B. Frank and launched Cipolla Romaine Inc., a new concept of full-service catering and wedding planning with custom, client-driven menus. In short order, they opened a successful BBQ cafe at Three Brothers Wineries & Estates called Smokin' Bagg Dare. The Kitchen, launched in Dec 2014, is truly the realization of a dream for Chef Cipolla and reflects his passion for beautiful food, perfectly prepared.
"I have really done a little bit of everything," says Chef Cipolla. "The Kitchen is a combination of my studies, world travels, and passion for food. While I have never been wedded to any specific cuisine, I have always kept my roots in French technique. I cook the food I truly love to make; and I use regional ingredients at their peak and with sincere respect."