Rising Star Chef Mike Isabella of Graffiato - Biography

Washington, D.C.

November 2014

For Mike Isabella, becoming a chef meant a trip down the East Coast, starting with culinary school at The Restaurant School in New York. He then moved to Philadelphia, cooking with Douglas Rodriguez at Alma de Cuba, delving deeply into Latin cuisine with StarChefs.com Risng Star Chef Jose Garces at El Vez, and learning meticulous fine dining as executive sous chef of Marcus Samuelsson’s Washington Square.

Isabella’s next stop was Atlanta and seafood-driven Greek restaurant Kyma, complete with inspiring culinary tours of Greece and the Middle East. Back in the States and in Washington, D.C., Isabella worked as executive chef of José Andrés’s Zaytinya before opening his first solo restaurant, Graffiato, where he pays homage to his Italian-American grandmother and the flavors of his New Jersey childhood.

Since then Isabella has expanded his empire to include a second Richmond location of Graffiato, two locations of his Italian sandwich shop G by Mike Isabella, and the upscale Greek restaurant Kapnos, with Kapnos Taverna and Pepita set to open in Arlington, Virginia late 2014 and early 2015, respectively. Isabella has made regular appearances on television, including season six of “Top Chef,” “Top Chef All-Stars,” and “Top Chef Duels.” He was also Food & Wine’s “People’s Best New Chef, Mid-Atlantic” in 2012, and released his first cookbook, Crazy Good Italian: Big Flavors, Small Plates, in the same year.