Born and raised in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, 2011 New York Rising Star Chef Hillary Sterling was inspired to cook by her grandmother, who had a passion for cooking and a knack for resourcefully combining ingredients. Sterling embarked on her career at the relatively ripe age of 14, bussing tables at Blue Marlin in Montauk, New York. And while she went on to earn a B.S. in Business, Marketing, and Sociology from Indiana University, Sterling had cooking in her bones. So she padded her résumé with yet another degree, this time an A.A.S. in Culinary Arts from Le Cordon Bleu in Chicago.
Sterling worked in a few restaurants in Montauk after graduation to cut her newbie chops, but it was a break—specifically a three-month trip to Italy, traveling and tasting the country—that would eventually change her life. Upon her return, Sterling accepted a position as a line cook at Bobby Flay’s Mesa Grill in New York, eventually moving up to sous chef and honing her technique and insight into the business side of the restaurant industry. After two years at Mesa Grill, Sterling moved to another of Flay’s famed New York establishments, Bolo Restaurant.
A desire to delve deeper into Italian cuisine drove Sterling to Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich's Lupa Osteria Romana, where she created menu specials and hand-selected many of the restaurant’s ingredients at the greenmarket. Sterling deepened her appreciation for Northern Italian cuisine as sous chef at Bar Milano under owner Jason Denton. But it was in 2009, when Sterling accepted a position as sous chef at A Voce under Executive Chef Missy Robbins, that she finally won the chance to coalesce her experience and passion into a leadership role. Just four months later, Sterling’s expertise and creativity earned her a promotion to chef de cuisine, a role she used to celebrate the rich heritage of Italian cuisine and share her passion, and vibrant personality, with her guests. In February 2013, Sterling became chef of The Beatrice Inn, a West Village restaurant owned by Restaurateur/Editor Graydon Carter.