White, Michael 1971-
White, Michael 1971-
Born July 14, 1971, in Beloit, WI; married. Education: Kendall Culinary School, graduate. Trained in Italy with Chef Valentino Marcattilii for eight years; trained in France with Chefs Roger Vergé and Stephane Raimbault for two years.
San Domenico, Imola, Italy, chef di cucina, beginning 1999; Fiamma Osteria, New York, NY, executive chef-partner, 2002-2006; Fiamma Trattoria, Las Vegas, NV, executive chef-partner, 2003—. Has also worked as chef di cucina at Spiaggia, Chicago, IL, and served as executive chef-partner of Fiamma, Scottsdale, AZ, and Vento Trattoria, New York, NY.
Chef of the Year, Esquire, 2002; James Beard Foundation Award, 2002, and best Italian restaurant in New York, Zagat's, 2004, both for Fiamma Osteria.
(With Elizabeth Katz) Fiamma: The Essence of Contemporary Italian Cooking, photography by Joseph De Leo, John Wiley (Hoboken, NJ), 2006.
Michael White is an executive chef honored for the Italian American cuisine he has created by blending traditional Italian cooking with fresh, local, American ingredients. White was born July 14, 1971, in Beloit, Wisconsin, to a family of Norwegian descent. Given the impact his version of Italian cuisine has had on the American restaurant world, it is interesting to note that he was nineteen years old when he first tasted authentic Italian cooking.
White's initial culinary training was at the Kendall Culinary School in Evanston, Illinois. While a student there, he worked at the four-star Chicago, Illinois, restaurant Spiaggia, where executive chef Paul Bartolotta noticed his talent. After White graduated from culinary school, Bartolotta recommended him for a position at Ristorante San Domenico in Imola, Italy. In Imola, White worked and studied with Chef Valentino Marcattilii for eight years and acquired an appreciation for indigenous Italian ingredients. For two of those years he traveled between Imola and Chicago, where he was chef de cucina at Spiaggia. In January 1999 he became chef di cucina at San Domenico, a rare honor for an American in Italy. He subsequently spent two years in France, training in Michelin-starred restaurants with Chefs Roger Verge at Le Moulin de Mougins in Provence and Stephane Raimbault at L'Oasis in La Napoule.
In 2002 White and restaurateur Steven Hanson opened Fiamma Osteria in New York City, showcasing White's adaptations of Italian cooking enhanced by some American ingredients, with an emphasis on freshness. He was honored that same year when Esquire named him Chef of the Year. The restaurant was awarded three stars by the New York Times, New York Post, New York Daily News, Crain's, and the New York Observer; was rated the best Italian restaurant in New York by Zagat's in 2004; and received a Michelin star in 2005. White followed this success by opening a more casual restaurant, Vento Trattoria, in Manhattan's meatpacking district, as well as two more Fiamma Trattorias in Las Vegas, Nevada, and Scottsdale, Arizona.
Fiamma: The Essence of Contemporary Italian Cooking is White's first book, written with pastry chef Elizabeth Katz. In it he culls the Italian haute cuisine of his restaurant menus and translates his creations into recipes appropriate for the average American home kitchen. Reviews were enthusiastic, both for the recipes themselves and for their adaptations for cooks who are not professionally trained. According to Mark Knoblauch, who reviewed Fiamma for Booklist, White "adapts the general Italian idiom to today's ingredients-of-the-moment to create a new … Italian American cooking." A critic for Publishers Weekly thought that compared to other cookbooks adapted from restaurant menus, White's "recipes are perfect for the reasonably well-equipped and competent home cook."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, September 15, 2006, Mark Knoblauch, review of Fiamma: The Essence of Contemporary Italian Cooking, p. 14.
Publishers Weekly, August 7, 2006, review of Fiamma, p. 49.
Jetsetters,http://www.jetsettersmagazine.com/ (February 1, 2008), Kriss Hammond, restaurant review of Fiamma Trattoria, Las Vegas.