Joe Cipolla

Meet the International Culinary Center alum.

Classic Culinary Arts, 2005
Chef/Owner of The Kitchen, Rochester, N.Y.

What were you doing before you attended the ICC? 
I can remember going into my Grecian/Italian grandmother’s kitchen  to help her make pasta. I always thought she did this with all of her grandchildren, and later found out, that I was the only one! She taught me that “food” is the vehicle by which we can all connect.
I started working in kitchens when I was very young…my first job was a fryer at a place called Flaugherty’s. When I was 18 I moved to New York City and attended the ICC during the day and worked at  a restaurant in Brooklyn, “The Pearl Room”with Chef Anthony Reinaldi, on the line, working my way up to Sous Chef in just two years. After graduating, I stayed in New York city and worked at other local restaurants up to an Executive Chef position.

How did you arrive at your culinary “Signature”?

Ha! By working my way  inside the “brigade” . Being at the ICC was an incredible experience for me. We would be working in the kitchens, look up inadvertently and see Jacques Pepin walking through! Jacques Pepin! I learned to see product for more than face value, for instance, a tomato is always just sliced, but I can immediately see it pickled, with gelee, maybe. And I always like to use local sources whenever possible.

How did the ICC contribute to achieving your goals?

One of the most important things that the ICC taught me was that the skies the limit, never stop learning,stay moving or go stagnant. I’ve been fortunate to travel to Italy, southern France, Portugal. I love deconstructing classic dishes into their principle components. ICC paved the way to finding my true roots…it opened up another world for me. I was fortunate enough to have had L’Ecole opened at the time and I experienced the kitchen in a completely new way.

What do you see in the stars for Joe Cipolla in the next 5 years?

Five years ago, I took a tax return and opened up a food truck, which lead to me buying three more food trucks and running a full service custom catering business with my business partner, David Romaine. Three years ago, I opened a restaurant with $55,000 which, while no small feat in itself, resulted in The Kitchen. The Kitchen is a combination of my culinary education, my travels, and the passion that I feel for food. I feel incredibly lucky to be able to work in a restaurant 4 days a week, three hours a day, for 24 covers, with 1 sitting, which is booked solid for 8 weeks ahead. Like I said…the sky is the limit.

Joe graduated from the International Culinary Center (ICC), founded as The French Culinary Institute (FCI). In 2020, ICE and ICC came together on one strong and dynamic national platform at ICE's campuses in New York City and Los Angeles. ICC’s culinary education legacy lives on at ICE, where you can explore your own future in food.

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