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UPS Box 352
Montclair, NJ 07042


Montclair F + W 2013

Participating Chefs 2013

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 thhe honor of working with many renowned guest chefs including Jacques Pépin 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 Zod Arifai

Zod Arifai is the acclaimed executive chef/owner of Blu and Next Door Restaurants, both located in Montclair, NJ, and Daryl Wine Bar & Restaurant in New Brunswick.  Blu is consistently rated among the best in the state by consumers as well as restaurant critics at a host of publications. 

Recognized for his unconventional, exciting, and wholly unique New American cuisine with world influences, Zod has a passion for superb ingredients simply prepared.

Completely self-taught, the chef spent brief periods in the most acclaimed restaurant kitchens in the country: Bouley, Charlie Trotter, Aureole. He opened the highly regarded Juniper in Lyndhurst, NJ in 1995; Ten Square in Morristown in 1998, and he was previously affiliated with Crisci and Jack's Fifth (both located in NYC).

Of Albanian descent, Zod Arifai was born in Kosovo and moved to the US with his family when he was 9. He is currently a resident of Montclair.

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

At the age of 28, Ryan DePersio has already begun to make a mark in the food world. Heading the kitchen at his creative, family-owned, new Italian restaurant in Montclair, Ryan and Fascino have received nothing less than three-star reviews in the six months they have been open.

The New York Times (12/14/03) graced Fascino with an "Excellent" rating and raved that Ryan was "born to run a restaurant." One of only two that year to garner that rating!

From his Star-Ledger review (8/17/03): "The food practically glows. It is a wonderful combination of simplicity and ingenuity that will leave you satisfied, rather than stuffed."

From Crain's New York Business (11/10/03): "It only takes a glance at the menu of Fascino, a terrific new Italian restaurant in downtown Montclair ... to realize why foodies and regulars are excited."

In 2007, Ryan was picked Rising Star in Restaurant Hospitality Magazine and flown to Las Vegas for an Awards Ceremony!

Coming from a close-knit Italian family with a mom (Fascino pastry chef Cynthia DePersio, former recipe developer for Ladies' Home Journal ) 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 and the kitchen, where he wanted to be.

He attended the NY Restaurant School, graduating in September 1997. After graduation, he was welcomed at Bouley Bakery. By the end of 1998, he took a job at JUdson Grill, advancing quickly over 1-1/2 years. JUdson Grill later arranged for Ryan to travel to Paris to work at the one-star Michelin restaurant, La Braserie.

Upon returning to the States, Ryan's talent was recognized by Jean Georges Vongerichten, who hired him at Vong. From there, Ryan was promoted to the four-star restaurant, Jean Georges. After 2 years with Jean Georges Enterprises, Ryan was sent to Florence for a stint at the two star Enoteca Pinchiorri. It was a heady, pivotal time. "My world exploded," Ryan says. "I felt like so much culinary info was being downloaded into my veins!"

In early 2003 after returning from Italy, Ryan, his mother, brother Anthony (formerly of Morgan Stanley-Dean Witter), and father, Anthony, began serious discussions about opening a high-quality restaurant in their home state of New Jersey. On July 1, 2003, Fascino's doors opened with Ryan and Cynthia in the kitchen, and brother Anthony as GM.

In Jan. 2010. Ryan and his family opened their 2nd restaurant Bara Cara. An Italian restaurant and bar that has modern décor with a casual feel. The cuisine is traditional with Chef Ryan’s twist to it! Bar Cara has been rated Best New Restaurant and Best Bang for your Buck!

In October of 2010, Ryan was voted “Best Chef in Montclair” in Montclair Magazine!!

And Sept. 2011, Ryan was hired to be the Celebrity Chef to consult on the new restaurant in The New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark NJ. He will help conceptualize a new restaurant opening there in Feb. 2012.

Ryan has been featured on the Today Show, Food Network, Tony Tantillo’s, and many other stations as well.

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.