Gerri Sarnataro grew up in Queens and has spent her entire adult life in Manhattan. She graduated from New York University with a degree in educational psychology, received a master's in developing psychology from Teachers College at Columbia, and taught in New York City schools before switching to a culinary career. She attended the New York Restaurant School for pastry arts and the French Culinary Institute for culinary arts.
Sarnataro worked at Lavin’s and at Wood’s before joining the staff of Charlie Palmer’s Aureole. She joined ICE as an administrator in 1996 and began teaching a year later. She became a full-time instructor in 1998. In 2008, she opened her cooking school, Cucina della Terra, in Umbria, Italy. Now she travels there regularly to host classes and culinary trips to the region, with numerous ICE students accompanying her.
When describing her culinary voice, she says, “I am passionate about food — its source, quality, and flavor. I speak about this continuously and try to demonstrate the relationship between what you begin with and the final product.” To help students find their culinary voices, she asks a simple question, “What did you like and why? I think my students are encouraged to reflect on what they are doing.”