Chef Steven’s culinary career began with a part-time job in a restaurant kitchen while studying Economics in college. There, Steven discovered his passion for cooking and decided to fully dedicate himself to becoming a chef. He began to train at farm-to-table restaurants and earned positions at important restaurants between Colorado and Chicago. After a few years in the industry, Steven decided to explore his interest in Italian cuisine and booked a three-month trip to Italy. Working as an apprentice in restaurants across the country, he gained a true appreciation of the diversity of regional Italian cuisine.
While in Italy, Steven applied to the Grand Opening Team at Eataly Chicago and was offered the role of Fresh Pasta Manager. He began his training in Italy, learning a great deal about fresh pasta and Eataly operations, and then returned to the States ready for his first Eataly opening. After a year of managing the Fresh Pasta Counter, Steven began cooking in Eataly Chicago’s various restaurants. When the store started to feature pop-up restaurants highlighting different regions of Italy, Steven was designated the “Pop-Up Restaurant Chef”. Using his culinary skill, knowledge of regional Italian cuisine, and love of learning, Chef Steven built and executed menus for more than 15 different pop-ups at Eataly Chicago in the years to follow.
When Eataly Toronto was set to open in 2019, Chef Steven joined the Grand Opening Team as the Executive Sous Chef. In 2022, he was promoted to Executive Chef. Today, Chef Steven directs culinary operations for all of Eataly Toronto, leading a team of approximately 80 culinary professionals including Chefs de Cuisine, Sous Chefs, Line Cooks, and Prep Cooks.
In your own words, what is the job of an Executive Chef at Eataly?
“The Executive Chef oversees the quality of the entirety of prepared food in an Eataly location. They are in charge of all the restaurants but also the quick service counters and even the prepared foods at the retail counters.”
What’s the best part of your job?
“I really enjoy letting my team be as creative as they can. I’m here to test their dishes, round out their ideas, and help them achieve results. But the more that I’m able to take a step back, the better it is for them.”
Do you have a favorite memory of your time at Eataly so far?
“I love new store openings. There is an energy and adrenaline level that you could never recreate in another setting. And there’s just so much good teamwork. I’ve been part of seven Eataly openings so far, and it’s always great to reconnect with teammates from other stores during openings. Plus, seeing the hands-on involvement and dedication of leaders is really inspiring. I remember at the Chicago opening, I came in at 6:00 AM, and our CEO at the time – Nicola Farinetti – was already there forming bread in the bakery. And he stayed longer than me that day.”
What advice do you have for a new Eataly team member?
“At Eataly, there are so many experts and resources. Between the different restaurants and outlets, there are endless opportunities to learn and contribute. You don’t need to do everything yourself, and you shouldn’t try to, because you have a knowledgeable team to support you. If you need to find out about cheese, go to the expert at the cheese counter. If you need to learn about meat, speak to the butcher. Use teamwork and the talent around you to achieve your goals.”
What are some of your favorite dishes at Eataly?
“During the time I worked on pop-up restaurant menus in Chicago, I probably made over 200 different regional Italian dishes. One of the most interesting ones was a Sicilian dish called Farsumargu, which is rolled veal stuffed with mortadella, boiled egg, ragusano cheese, and other ingredients. Another dish I always love making is Tuscan pasta, pici, with boar ragu’. Finally, you can never go wrong with Piemontese Tajarin pasta with butter and white truffle. There are so few ingredients in the dish, but when you use the best egg yolks, the best flour, the best butter, and truffles – it just works perfectly.”
Outside of Eataly, what do you like to do?
“I love doing outdoorsy stuff! When I’m not in the kitchen, I enjoy hiking, backpacking, and mountain biking.”