Rising Star Chef Will Zuchman of Alma de Cuba - Biography

Philadelphia, PA

February 2013

Rising Star Chef Will Zuchman may have been born and raised in Southwest Philly, but it’s his international travels that shaped him as a chef. Before stamping his passport in 15 countries and working in more than 15 kitchens, Zuchman made his industry debut at 15 as a dishwasher. He soon joined Starr Restaurants, cooking at The Continental, Bleu Angel, and Tangerine before joining Douglas Rodriguez’s opening team at Alma de Cuba in 2001.

Working at Alma five days a week, Zuchman spent his days off in New York City, splitting time between kitchens at Pipa and Chicama. And after helping Rising Star Chef Jose Garces open El Vez, he left Philadelphia for a round of travel. Zuchman cooked next at Lacroix and Morimoto under Chef Masaharu Morimoto, whom he helped with an “Iron Chef America” battle against Mario Batali. The experience drew Zuchman to New York City full-time and a job at Batali’s Esca.

Zuchman readied his passport again for travel through the Caribbean and Central and South America before returning to Philly to stage under Chef Marc Vetri. Vetri, in turn, arranged for Zuchman to work at Ol-Fa in Bergamo, Italy with Chef Andrea Forcella.

Back home, Zuchman opened La Boheme and then teamed up again with Garces to open Tinto in 2008 as chef de cuisine—before which he spent a month in Basque country. At last returning to Starr, Zuchman worked at Parc, Barclay Prime, and Buddakan before taking over Rodriguez’s kitchen in 2012 as executive chef of Alma de Cuba, where his passion for wanderlust and Latin cooking shines through in every dish and earned him a 2013 StarChefs Rising Star Chef Award.