Custom Culinary - Be true to the food
Mike Speranza

YEARS IN FOODSERVICE INDUSTRY: 

30+

WHEN DID YOU KNOW YOU WERE GOING TO BECOME A CHEF? 

My interest in cooking ebbed and flowed but really began when I made gnocchi and pasta in the kitchen with my grandma. In fact, my grandparents on both sides were Italian-American and cooked traditional Italian food.

“Flour flying everywhere is a beautiful thing,” I always say.

I went to vocational school, then Johnson & Wales and worked with Jean-George Vongerichten who “made such an impact” on forming my culinary perspective, namely: flavors, plate presentations, and not to be afraid of experimenting. My experience working in high end hotels gave me tremendous insight when I became a chef at food companies.

Through my role in Michelle Obama’s Chefs Move to Schools program, I am working closely with school principals, staff, parents, and students in my hometown of Victor, New York to inspire them to learn more about and experiment with food.

For example, in a course on Medieval Cuisine, I helped the kids prepare white crepes with honey. I've also shown students how to harvest produce from the school garden to make fresh salsa and other dishes. My experience with healthcare business and philanthropic efforts with school wellness programs blends seamlessly.

WHAT'S THE BEST ADVICE YOU HAVE EVER RECEIVED? 

My best advice came when I was a young culinarian:  Find a job in the best restaurant you can find. Stay for a year or two – no less – and respectfully move on to another great restaurant. Eventually you will end up exactly where you want to be.

MEMBERSHIPS: 

World Association of Chefs Societies, American Culinary Federation

RECOGNITION: 

2011 Rochester Chef of the Year Award

Achieved Certified Executive Chef Recognition, July 2001, ACF Chefs Move to Schools Presidential Task Force