bio cesare casella,
director nyc area
Cesare Casella (born March 1, 1960 in Lucca, Italy is an acclaimed New York chef and restaurateur known for the ever-present rosemary sprouting from his shirt pocket. His Tuscan roots have guided him through a career that celebrates simplicity and quality of ingredients. He was the man behind celebrated New York restaurants such as Beppe and Maremma in the 2000s. These days, Chef Casella acts as Chief of the Department of Nourishment Arts at the Center for Discovery nestled in the Catskills, and as Dean of Italian Studies at the International Culinary Center. He operates his own salumi company, Casella's Salumi, where he makes prosciutto from heritage breed pigs, true to the classic Italian recipes and flavors of his childhood in Tuscany. He has written several books including True Tuscan and The Fundamental Techniques of Italian Cooking, and most recently, Feeding the Heart.
Casella learned the trade at Vipore, the trattoria owned by his parents, Rosa and Pietro, outside of Lucca, Italy. At age 14, Casella enrolled in the Culinary Institute Ferdinando Martini, in Montecatini, Italy, against his parents' wishes. After graduating, he worked in his parents' trattoria in an effort to transform Vipore from a local favorite into both a regional and international destination. He began developing herbal cuisine, including a garden with over 40 types of aromatic herbs, and updating traditional Italian recipes. By 1991, Casella had earned Vipore a Michelin Guide star and a reputation that attracted clients including Henry Kissinger and Tom Cruise.
Casella now lives with his wife and daughter in New York City.
Casella arrived in New York City in the early 1990s, with the goal of introducing Tuscan style cooking to the American public. His early career included being Executive Chef of Coco Pazzo in New York City in 1993. Soon afterwards, he launched its sister restaurant, Il Toscanaccio. He opened his first solo New York restaurant, Beppe, in honor of his grandfather, Giuseppe Polidori in March 2001. Beppe earned critical praise and commercial success for its Tuscan cuisine.
Casella's previous endeavors include the Italian restaurant Maremma, located in Manhattan's West Village, which opened in 2005. New York Magazine named Maremma one of the Top 5 Best New Restaurants in New York City in 2006. At the end of its first year, Maremma received three stars from Forbes magazine, naming it one of the best restaurants in the country. Casella's lamb meatballs held the Number One spot in New York Magazine's Best Meatballs in New York City. Maremma closed within three years due to poor location.
He also launched Casella's Salumi, which distributes products nationally. Growing up in Tuscany, one of Casella's jobs was helping make the country-cured meats his family restaurant was famous for, and when he got older, he would help the norcini, the old-school butchers who traveled from farmer to farmer each winter, prepare the prosciutti. Today, as the prosciutto whisperer, he uses those Italian techniques to create cured-on-the-bone prosciutti.
Casella has appeared on the television series After Hours with Daniel Boulud playing host and guest chef. In 2007, he received Food Arts magazine's Silver Spoon Award for outstanding achievement in the culinary field.