Educational background: Graduate of the Pennsylvania Culinary Institute — Le Cordon Bleu Program
Notable past jobs/employers: “I started my culinary career young in the Finger Lakes area while still in high school. I began work at Rosalie’s Cucina in Skaneateles during my junior year of high school and throughout my senior year. I then worked in the kitchen of The Springside Inn in Auburn the summer after I graduated, before leaving for culinary school. During culinary school I was awarded an opportunity to lead a team for Shane’s Gourmet for a week in Dublin, Ohio for the 2004 PGA Memorial Golf Tournament — an amazing experience for me at such a young age. I then finished my culinary arts degree as a culinary extern at The Breakers Resort in Palm Beach, Fla., where I had the opportunity to work in four of the amazing restaurants on the property. I then returned to my roots here in the Finger Lakes and worked at Devaney’s Riverside Grill for two years before my move to wine country.”
Current position: Executive chef at Knapp Winery & Vineyard Restaurant.
What he likes best about his job:
“It is multi-faceted, which is what I truly love about the job. I’m not just the guy who makes food and goes home. I run a restaurant that is open seasonally and create menus based on local and seasonal availability. I get to work with amazing, fresh and sometimes quite unique products every day. As a result, I have built strong connections with local producers and farmers. I have gone into the community and taught cooking classes and cooked at many fundraising events in the area. I hold wine dinners once a month, created around a theme that is carried out throughout the meal; these have become my creative outlet and something I look forward to each month. I plan our weddings and special events. The Knapp team is very close-knit and we work very closely with each other on a daily basis. I work with management on marketing; I work in the tasting room in the winter months engaging with customers. I’ve even worked in the fields with the vineyard manager pruning vines on occasion. These and countless other facets of the job, I think, make me more passionate about the products and services we render to our guests daily.”
Has he worked anywhere besides the Finger Lakes?
“I have had opportunities and have worked outside of the Finger Lakes area before. Pittsburgh and Palm Beach are amazing places, but I don’t think I could have ever called them home.”
Why he has chosen to work in the Finger Lakes:
“The Finger Lakes has been and always will be home for me. My wife and I are both from the area, and so are our immediate families. This is where we want to start our family. As far as working in the Finger Lakes, how much better can it get? As a chef, I have an abundance of fresh, local goods available to me. Whether I am looking for beef, lamb, pork, oil, vegetables, fruit, flour or whatever, it is most likely available and better quality than you will find in the supermarket. Not only is the quality most likely superior, the product that is being handed to me also has a story connected with it. How great is that? I think that working in the Finger Lakes was just a natural fit. And the wine is definitely an added bonus!”
Advice he would give other young professionals looking to locate to the Finger Lakes:
“Look around, get involved, get a feel for it and really appreciate what this area has to offer. Once you do, you won’t want to look anywhere else. This area has a lot to offer, and we’re just getting started!”
Where he would be if he wasn’t working in the Finger Lakes:
“If I weren’t in the Finger Lakes, I would really enjoy touring and living in other great food and wine regions of the world.”
Young Professionals is a regular feature on the Business page. To nominate someone under age 40 to be profiled, send an email with contact information to Mike Cutillo at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Finger Lakes Young Professionals offers social networking, professional development and volunteer opportunities to ambitious young professionals in the area. For more information, visit FLYP’s Facebook or LinkedIn pages, or contact the Seneca County Chamber of Commerce at 568-2906.