Born of Italian heritage in Brooklyn, New York, Chef Stefano started his tour of duty at age 13 while still tied to Grandma Jennies’s apron string. The many hours spent working at the family bakery and Lucky Luciano’s nephew’s butcher shop made Stefano realize food would become his life’s work.
He attained his Hotel and Restaurant Degree while working full time. He studied Classic French Cuisine “Escoffier” in NYC and completed his private externship in Innsbruck, Austria.
Chef Stefano’s first tour of duty was featured in People Magazine showcasing “Joanna’s Restaurant”, New York City. At Joanna’s, Chef Stefano worked with famed chef Daniel Moriarty, formerly of Paul Prudone’s kitchen.
Chef Stefano’s love for food runs deep; so when presented with an executive sous chef position at “Gianni’s South Street Seaport” under the direction of Chef Consultant Ann Rosensweig, of 21 Club fame, he jumped at the opportunity.
Chef Stefano continued to work for this group created by Restaurateur Gianni Utzelli and Robert Shapiro for many years. The group consisted of Seven Restaurants all featuring fresh pasta utilizing Chef Stefano’s Grandma’s Jennies techniques. The team worked hard, stuck to the vision of creating a dynasty food concept resembling that of the Rothschild legacy, the legacy Gianni’s mother was born into. Gianni’s South Street Seaport soon became NYC latest attraction in the financial district.
As a member of this elite food team Chef Stefano was able to compete in a culinary salon. The Team won a gold metal which enabled Chef Lisa Beferee to secure a place on the United States Culinary Olympic Team to which Chef Stefano became an alternate team member. “To this day, I am still so proud of the honor”, states Chef Stefano.
The Globe trotting Chef’s next tour of duty was at “Loews Hotel” in Paradise Island, Bahamas. As Executive chef, he created amazing foods, fusing the herbs and spices of this Caribbean Island into his cuisine while staying true to the Loews’ brand. The elite guest list included the likes of Prince Rainier of Monaco, Princess Stephanie and Rocker, Lenny Kravitz.
Chef Stefano returned to Florida after several years of cooking for the International jet-set crowd. Once in Florida it immediately became clear to him that the diverse food culture of Miami and South Beach would be a great canvas to create amazing exciting foods from around the world.
Chef Stefano recalls with amazement at been invited to participate in the 1st “Feast on the Beach” by Shep Gordon; sponsored by American Express for Sharon Stone fundraiser for the Tibetan Monks. This event led to the creation of what is now known as “The Food Network South Beach Food & Wine Festival”, one of the largest events in the United States. He not only cooked and worked with the likes of celebrity chefs Emeril Lagasse and Julia Child; but joined the original “Mango Gang” chefs in this three day cook out and music jam. In true South Beach style Chef Stefano moved to “33139” and ended up cooking rattlesnake chili for the likes of Alice Cooper, Michael Douglas, Madonna and many others.
Soon after his arrival on South Beach, Chef Stefano worked on several special events such as Summit of the Americas, several Fundraisers for former President Bill Clinton, Super Bowl Press Core events and numerous NFL events.
After achieving success in restaurants, exclusive clubs, hotels and landmark events; Chef Stefano then turned his talent and love for food to launching and consulting on new projects along with fundraising efforts such as the “Make a Wish” Foundation event.
One extremely exciting project for Chef Stefano was the creation of “Fresco Mediterranean Restaurant” inside the landmark Eden Roc Hotel. During the $28 million revitalization of this classic and historic MiMo design by architect Morris Lapidus. The addition of a world class Spa program seemed to be fit. New Times described this treasure as “reclaiming the property to its famous status on the millionaire mile”. The New Times “Them’s Good Eden” review stated “Chef Stefano LaCava’s menu manages to both work in and unify influences from every nation that touches the Mediterranean Sea. In its execution, the fare outshines every trattoria, cafe, and bistro I’ve reviewed this year.”
Chef Stefano’s true passion and talent shone thru recently as a former partner at “Town Kitchen & Bar”. At Town Kitchen, his need to create casual quality cuisine at reasonable prices for locals in a non-trendy neighborhood setting was fulfilled. His knowledge and expertise from eight years on the distributor side with “US Foodservice” and “Sysco” enabled him to set up strong and profitable vendor relations, create and design the kitchen from scratch and formulate the menus and concept culminating in the “birth” of this project. Again he was rewarded when New Times stated in their review “Chef Stefano’s LaCava’s contemporary American menu is Pop Music to the Palate”. Town Kitchen was awarded Best New Restaurant in South Miami in New Times “Best of 2007” and Best Neighborhood Bar 2008.
Chef Stefano is currently enjoying his part in outrageous elite events and venues with the culinary team at “Barton G Catering” in Miami’s South Beach. Barton G. Weiss has been featured in T.V. Food Networks “Behind the Bash” with Giada De Laurentiis, and as a judge on Top Chef Miami on the Bravo Network.
“My life as a Chef is amazing! The rewards are great, taking care of special clients like Oprah Winfrey, Mick Jagger, Sophia Loren, former heads of state and a gamut of “who’s who” is fun; but what really fuels my passion are the many charity events we do year after year,” states Chef Stefano.
Chef Stefano is currently enjoying book signings for his part as contributing author of “Food for the Soul” spa recipes, in the recently published book, “Everyday Grace, Everyday Miracle – Living the life you were born to live” created by power Author and Life coach, Lorna Owens.
“Food is my passion and the way I share my Love with the World” states Chef Stefano. Creating the Warmest Culinary Regards,
Chef Stefano LaCava