Like many chefs, Brian Canipelli found his way to food by a process of elimination. Growing up in Atlanta, Canipelli knew immediately he didn’t want a big city kind of life style. After failing out of the University of Georgia, he made his way to a steakhouse and realized culinary school might be the way to go. Immersed in the lifestyle, the cooking, and the camaraderie (not to mention the technique and tradition) Canipelli had a feeling he was in the right place—and he hasn’t left since.
Graduating from Johnson & Wales in 2002, Canipelli didn’t take the traditional route of pursuing stages. Before opening his own place, he was a line cook at Asheville, North Carolina’s Savoy for eight months, followed by work at Chef Jacob Sessoms’s Table and almost three years as a sous chef at Rezaz, where he learned about the business side of restaurant ownership. Along the way, Canipelli won the National Truffle Festival’s Risotto competition. And in 2008, just six years after culinary school, Canipelli opened his own restaurant, Cucina 24 in the city that taught him how to cook.
At the helm of Cucina, Capinelli achieves the unlikely, if not impossible, combining local ingredients and Southern foodways with the flavors of his Italian heritage. The unifying element, marrying Asheville to Italy, seems to be straightforward techniques that utilize local products. Working alongside Sous Chef Lauren Macellaro and Sous Chef/Brother Brad, Capinelli allows the products to determine the menu, creating dishes based on local supply and influencing the local food community, along the way.