My name is Chef Carmela. I was born in a small town in Italy called Bernalda. When I was about five years old, we moved to the city of Taranto, a seaside city near Naples Italy. I lived there until I was twelve years old. In 1973, my family immigrated to the United States in search of a better life. We settled in Jersey City, New Jersey since several of my mother’s brothers and sisters were already there. This made us feel a little more comfortable in this strange new home. One of my biggest challenges was actually learning the English language, but like everything else in life you adjust and move forward.
My passion for food started at a young age. I was very lucky to grow up on home-made bread, pasta, and even sausage. My mother was a great cook. She loved it so much that even towards the end of her life she spoke about going home from the hospital and cooking a great meal for our family get together.
I have learned quite a lot of old world secrets from her even though she rarely measured anything and cooked mostly by “feel”. This opened up my senses on what it really means to be a chef.
I actually started my career journey at a nursing school, but soon learned I could not stand the sight of blood. So it was on to Adelphi University to take up nutrition for a future as a dietitian. While I was interning at a hospital, I would bring homemade treats to my co-workers, who would always comment on why I was studying to be a dietitian. One day by chance, one of the dieticians and I took a little trip to this wonderful place she always talked about where the smells in the air excited your senses. This was the Culinary Institute of America. She was right. My excitement inside came to life and my passion for food grew stronger with each passing day. I attended the CIA and graduated with an Associate of Occupational Science degree in 1983. I returned in 1999 to complete my Bachelor’s degree and graduated with honors.
My practical work experience has included the Rainbow Room in the Empire State Building, Alfredos in Walt Disney’s Epcot Center, Executive Chef in private restaurants and country clubs, account manager for Sodexho and Morrison Foodservice Management. I love what I do. My culinary passion shines through in everything. I use this passion to mentor anyone who I come in contact with in a food preparation / service setting.
The food you prepare for yourself and others represents you and what you are in every bite when you are a chef. Doing something you love and seeing the enjoyment of your customers, no matter what the setting or occasion, is truly the best reward that you can have.