Chef Rich Torrisi of Major Food Group - Biography

New York, NY

July 2012

Rich Torrisi grew up in Westchester, New York, in a family who shared a great love of eating, and the naturally curious Torrisi was eager to learn his grandmother’s secrets in the kitchen. By the time he realized there are no secrets—just hard work, heat, and long hours—Torrisi was already in love with food.

Just 15, he followed that feeling to his first job at Chart House restaurant on the Hudson River. Transitioning to the higher standards of the Kittle House in Chappaqua, New York, Torrisi realized he needed more training and headed to the Culinary Institute of America. Torrisi worked at several top New York City restaurants, but Marcus Samuelsson ultimately convinced the young chef to join the staff at Aquavit. Torrisi followed his ambitions from Aquavit to Café Boulud, where he first encountered mentor Andrew Carmellini. Three years into Café Boulud, Torrisi was sent on a revelatory trip to France, venturing—briefly but pivotally—into Italy.

Returning home, Torrisi teamed up with Carmellini to cook the “urban Italian” cuisine of the A Voce. The restaurant was a hit, and Torrisi continued honing his skills, but after two years (and six under Carmellini), he was ready for independence. So in 2009 he and partner Mario Carbone opened Torrisi Italian Specialties, serving their take on classic Italian-American sandwiches. The wildly popular (and critically lauded) concept has since evolved, with Torrisi focusing entirely on prix-fixe tasting menus and newer Parm serving creative, casual cuisine. With a recently formed restaurant group (Major Food Group), Torrisi, two Parm locations, and another concept in the works, Torrisi more than earned Food & Wine’s 2012 “Best New Chef in America.”