A chef, a sommelier, a restaurateur—each of these titles applies to Florida-native Stephen Asprinio. He rose to national fame and near celebrity status as a sassy chef-competitor on the debut series of Bravo! Network's competitive reality show Top Chef. But it's his accomplishments prior to his spot on the hit show that are what's most impressive.
Asprinio ran his first kitchen, Cucina Nostalgia in Boca Raton, at just 17 years of age and helped earn the restaurant a three star review in its first year. He attended The Culinary Institute of America where he earned a culinary degree and then went to Cornell University's School of Hotel Administration to fine tune his culinary and management skills; then trained at the winery Hermann J. Wiemer Vineyards in New York to hone his wine palate and knowledge.
Asprinio pursued wine with his usual fervor and still holds the title of youngest person to pass the US Sommelier Association's Certificate Examination, and was one of the youngest to pass the Court of Master Sommelier's Certificate Course. At 22, Asprinio took over two wine programs at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas, and was the wine director at Michael Mina's NobHill in the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino.
Since his appearance on Top Chef, Asprinio has made multiple television guest appearances and opened his first restaurant, Forte di Asprinio in Palm Beach County, in 2008. Only nine months after its inception, amongst many other awards, the restaurant was named one of the “Top 10 Best New Restaurants in the United States of 2008” by Gayot. Asprinio has since sold the restaurant space to his partner and is going to open a second Forte di Asprinio in Dubai.