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UPS Box 352
Montclair, NJ 07042


Gala Chefs 2015

Participating Chefs 2015

Chef Mitchell Altholz

A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, Mitchell Altholz gained culinary expertise in two continents.

He returned to his native country in 1995 after spending seven years in France, mastering the art of gastronomy at such fine restaurants as Maxim’s (Paris), Paul Bocuse (Lyon), Le Saprien (Sauternes) and L’Iboga (Bordeaux). During his tenure, Chef Mitchell was the only American in Bordeaux to hold the position of Chef de Cuisine. It is also there that he met his wife, Jocelyne.

Chef Mitchell’s New York credits include Sous Chef at Maxim’s from 1985 – 1989, where he had the honor of working with many renowned guest chefs including Jacques Pepin and Mitchell Rostang. From there, his talents took him to St. Thomas where he worked as Executive Chef at The Inn at Mandahi.

On Valentine's Day 1998, Mitchell and Jocelyne opened an intimate nine-table restaurant in Maplewood, aptly named "Jocelyne." The skills of both Mitchell and his wife earned three stars from New Jersey Monthly, an "Excellent" from The New York Times, four stars from The Star Ledger, a Zagat rating of 27 for food and a DiRoNA (Distinguished Restaurants of North America) Award before selling the business in 2005.

Mitchell joined Highlawn Pavilion in 2005 and, in addition to creating a culinary buzz, has garnered an "Excellent" rating from The New York Times, four stars from The Star Ledger, a Top Restaurant award from New Jersey Monthly and has been chosen to lead a handful of dinners at The James Beard House.

Chef Michael Carrino

Michael Carrino, one of New Jersey's most celebrated chefs, is considered by many a rising star in the culinary world. He has made guest appearances on NBC's Today Show, Good Day New York, CBS 2 Saturday Morning, Today in New York, LX New York, News 12 New Jersey and has been featured in The New York Times, Bon Appétit, New Jersey Monthly, The Star-Ledger, New York Post and Zagat Dinning Guide and more. He was also declared the winner of his episode of Food Network's cooking competition "Chopped."

He is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, he was inducted into the prestigious society of wine gurus, chefs, hotel executives and restaurant owners, known as The Chaîne des Rotisseurs at the age of 28. Additionally, on three separate occasions, Carrino was invited to cook for the prestigious members of the world famous James Beard Foundation in New York City.

Chef Ryan DePersio

Ryan has established himself as one of New Jersey’s most well respected chefs and he brings a wealth of epicurean knowledge to Battello. He currently oversees all culinary aspects of Battello and can be found in the kitchen on a regular basis.

For Battello, DePersio has curated a unique menu offering guests a variety nautically inspired Italian dishes. Highlights from the menu include Rock Shrimp Polpette, Sea Scallop Crudo, and Zucchini & Crispy Artichoke Insalata for appetizers. Entrée highlights include a variety of pastas, all curated in-house, such as; Tagliatelle & Little Neck Clams, Ricotta & Spinach Francobolli and Squid Ink Cavatelli. Additional entrées include; Buttermilk Baked Chicken, Striped Bass, Butter Poached Lobster Tail and Prawns Scampi, just to name a few. Battello is currently open for lunch and dinner daily and brunch on the weekends.

At the age of 25, Ryan DePersio made a mark in the food world. His creative, family- owned, new Italian restaurant in Montclair, Fascino, received three-star reviews in the first six months it was open. The New York Times graced Fascino with an "Excellent" rating and raved that Ryan was "born to run a restaurant."

Coming from a close-knit Italian family with a mom, Fascino pastry chef Cynthia DePersio — who set high standards for home cooking and grandmothers whose meals were legendary — Ryan knew early on that cooking was what he wanted to do. After NY Restaurant School, Ryan worked at Bouley Bakery and Judson Grill, then travelled to Paris to work at the one-star Michelin restaurant, La Braserie. Back in the states, Ryan's talent was recognized by Jean Georges Vongerichten, who hired him first at Vong and then promoted him to the four-star restaurant, Jean Georges. After two years there, he travelled to Florence and worked at the two-star Enoteca Pinchiorri.

In July 2003, Fascino's doors opened with Ryan and Cynthia in the kitchen and brother, Anthony, as GM. In January 2010, Ryan and his family opened a second restaurant, Bara Cara. In February 2012 , Ryan consulted and opened Nico in The New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark, NJ. Ryan has been featured on the Today Show, Food Network and Tony Tantillo’s. In June 2013, Chef Ryan and staff proudly celebrated 10 years at FASCINO. 

Chef Ariane Duarte

Chef Ariane Duarte’s love for cooking began as she was growing up, watching her grandmother cook the family dinners. She realized she needed to get an education to hone her skills and she applied and was accepted to the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. After two years of studies, she was hired as a sous chef at the Highlawn Pavilion in West Orange. Two years later and a brief stint with a major NYC catering firm; she accepted a line cook position at The Terrace in NYC. After three years there, she found a position as the lead grill cook at Dallas’ prestigious Star Canyon. It was here where she met her husband, Michael, with whom she moved to Chicago to cook in his family’s restaurant. While in Chicago she broadened her culinary knowledge by taking a position at Trio. Ariane was also fortunate enough to come upon a job as an assistant for one of Charlie Trotter’s cookbooks. It was time for her to come back home, and she immediately found a position in the film industry cooking for the stars. After a year of twilight cooking, she accepted the position as opening chef de cuisine for Vine. Within eight months she was given the title of Executive Chef. Ariane commanded this kitchen of one of New York City’s most desirable restaurants for five years. During the same time, Ariane was also running her own catering company, CulinAriane, in New Jersey with her husband. When Vine closed its doors, Ariane and Michael opened their own restaurant. Two months after opening in February 2006, CulinAriane received a four star rating from the Star Ledger and one month later received a “very good” rating from the New York Times. Presented with the opportunity to be on Top Chef Season 5, Ariane jumped at the chance. With appearances on the Today Show, Iron Chef and the Tyra Banks Show she has not stopped. Currently she is working with the website producing cooking videos, is a contributing chef for Prevention Magazine and national spokesperson for Finlandia cheese. After six years and one expansion, CulinAriane, with Ariane still commanding the stoves, continues to excel as one of New Jersey’s best restaurants.

Chef Francesco Palmieri

Francesco Palmieri, an accomplished and visionary New York City chef, has embarked on his own culinary journey opening his first restaurant, The Orange Squirrel in his hometown of Bloomfield, New Jersey in November 2008. For eight years prior, Palmieri cooked in the kitchens of several acclaimed New York City restaurants alongside prominent chefs, with three years spent as Sous Chef at Town, a Three Star restaurant in the Chambers Hotel.

Upon graduating the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) in 2000, his first foray into the culinary field began at the world renowned Windows on the World restaurant in the World Trade Center in New York City. There he trained with his mentor, Chef Michael Lomonaco for two years until the tragic events of 9/11. For a brief period in 2006, Chef Palmieri reunited with his former Windows on the World colleagues to help establish employee owned restaurant Colors.

Immediately following Windows on the World, Palmieri joined Pino Luongo’s team at Coco Pazzo as Sous Chef where honed his skills under Chef Marta Pulini. During his two years at Coco Pazzo he cooked for a host of celebrities and notable clientele and finished as acting Executive Chef.

Palmieri’s culinary interest was sparked at an early age by his mother’s Italian home cooking that was prepared with organic vegetables grown in their own garden. This started the path to his education at CIA, which included a culinary externship in Frankfurt, Germany.

At The Orange Squirrel, his innovative culinary style will be reflected in the contemporary American cuisine with European accents that will include hand- made pastas; ‘couture’ pizzas made with premium, fresh ingredients as well as a selection of main entrees with side dishes that can be personally chosen.

A multi-creative talent, Palmieri also attended the Fashion Institute of Technology for Interior Design, which proved beneficial as he personally designed and hand-crafted The Orange Squirrel. His inspiration for the décor was a modern, art deco style featuring a one-of-a-kind Wood Stone oven, a custom made “floating” Brazilian birch and limestone bar, and imported Italian furniture and lighting.

Palmieri is married to Elaine, a make-up artist and currently lives in his hometown of Bloomfield, NJ. A 21st century Renaissance man, he is passionate about applying his creativity in all his artistic endeavors.

Chef Kevin Sippel

For the last 20+ years, Kevin Sippel has studied and practiced culinary arts throughout Europe and the United States, specializing in the gastronomic traditions of Italy.

Chef Sippel worked with legendary restaurateur Chris Cannon at Manhattan’s Alto and L’Impero, where he was Chef de Cuisine when the latter restaurant was awarded three stars from The New York Times.Most recently, Sippel was

Executive Chef at Italian Wine Merchants' Studio del Gusto, its state-of-the-art wine tasting facility and learning laboratory in Manhattan.

A native of Buffalo, he recently relocated to Parsippany from NYC with his family. Chef Sippel is 37 years old.