Chef Nicholas Stefanelli was headed toward a career in the fashion industry in Milan when he caught the food bug. Food had always been a party of Stefanelli’s upbringing (his grandparents grew their own vegetables) but he never saw it as a profession until he experienced the food culture of Italy.
Excited to pursue to his new career, Stefanelli enrolled in L'Academie de Cuisine in Gaithersburg, Maryland. After graduating in 2001, he externed at Galileo restaurant in Washington, DC. He quickly rose to chef de partie, and shortly after, the chef de partie of Laboratorio del Galileo, the dining room with an open kitchen in the back of the restaurant, where he was responsible for creating the tasting menus.
In 2003, he accepted a position as chef de partie at Maestro, the elegant Italian restaurant located inside The Ritz-Carlton in McLean, Virginia. He would spend the next four years there, moving up to the position of sous chef. Working under Maestro's James Beard Award-winning chef Fabio Trabocchi, Stefanelli developed a deeply-felt respect for regional Italian cuisine.
When Trabocchi moved to New York for the modern Italian, French-influenced restaurant, Fiamma, Stefanelli followed as chef de cuisine. Fiamma earned a three-star rating from the New York Times. Stefanelli returned to the Capital City after a year to work at Mio Restaurant. In 2009, Ashok Bajaj hired him as the opening chef for Bibiana. Stefanelli’s sophisticated manipulation of regional Italian cuisine through a modern lens is evident in the elegant offerings on the menu, though the young chef continues to serve copious amounts of pizza and pasta to an eager public.