Meet Chef Mike VittetaTake a look at an interview of one of our finest chefs a the Biltmore, Michael Vitetta, who has cooked for the President Obama, Toby McQuire, and more.
Chef Michael Vitetta
Born in Mount Kisco, New York, Michael knew in his early years that cooking was a true passion of his. He has an Associates in Culinary Arts and a Bachelors in Culinary Management from Florida Culinary Institute. Michael has been a part of the Biltmore team since 2008 and has moved in ranking very quickly due to his determination and drive. He is an active member of The Knights of Columbus and the Boy Scouts of America.
Interview With Chef Michael Vitetta
1. Where were you born?
Mount Kisco, New York
2. Did you always know you wanted to be a chef?
I always had a love of food. Ever since I was young. Food had been a major piece of my life’s puzzle. The only, at that point, that I was any good at was eating it. Freshman year of High School was when I realized I wanted to be a chef. I figured the pay would be good, I’d always have a job, since everyone needs to eat. I learned that I can turn my passion and love of eating into a love of cooking it. I can’t see myself doing anything else.
3. What was your first kitchen job?
age of our residents was 94. It was an interesting job to say the least. We always had to find new ways to season food without using salt. Which as anyone knows is a core ingredient to most anything that tastes good. So I learned early on how to use other spices and ingredients to turn food from being bland to something edible and worth it.
4. Who do you consider to be your most influential culinary mentor/teacher?
I had a Chef Instructor, Dan Birney, he was always blunt and straight to the point. Really opened my eyes to what the culinary world was going to be like. I have always looked up to the big chefs, Thomas Keller, Anthony Bourdain, Daniel Bouloud, Marco Pierre White as well as David Chang. Although I have never worked with any of them directly, these guys have set and raised the standard of cooking throughout their careers. Very inspiring. I would have to of course include Chef Dave, he has taught me a lot about humility, and about being a professional, and has given me a great opportunity to express myself through cooking. Chef Scott Downs was also a huge influence on me. I was his Sous Chef during his time here. He taught me about flavor, taught me about organization, taught me an advanced form of fundamentals. A much nuanced approach to the standard methodology of cooking. There was a piece of advice that I learned from Anthony Bourdain during a Q&A where I had the opportunity to ask him his advice to a young chef and he simply responded with “If you think you know everything, pretend that you don’t”
5. What is the oddest ingredient or meal you have ever had?
The oddest ingredient I have ever had, not so much a meal, is what they call a thousand year old egg. It’s an egg, shell on, that is buried in hot ash for over 90 days. Very interesting look, and a very odd taste. I also always go back to Sweetbreads as the oddest thing I’ve cooked with and eaten.
6. Have you ever cooked for someone famous?
I have cooked for the King and Queen of Spain, President’s Barack Obama and George Bush, Jeb Bush, Toby McQuire and Ray Allen
7. Do you cook at home? What do you have in your refrigerator?
If I have time I do, which is a rare luxury in this business. I have a ton of fruit, vegetables, and lettuces. I try to eat healthy when I’m home. With time constraints, it’s generally something quick, like a peanut butter sandwich with bananas.
8. Any memorable kitchen disasters?
I had a cook one time, who decided it was wise to throw away a lit paper towel into the trash can. A large fire erupted. One that occurred personally was my first Thanksgiving brunch, I had set the time and temp in an oven I was unfamiliar with and the turkeys were burnt the next day for service. I’ve dealt with flooding in the kitchen, the AC vent fell through the ceiling almost completely. I had a cook once put a Pan Spray bottle next to the grill and after a time of it sitting there it exploded, luckily no one was hurt.
9. Speaking of disasters…what beverage or cocktail do you like to unwind with?
I enjoy single malt scotch, a glass of Irish whiskey, as well as a nice cold craft beer beer. I try to keep things simple, but those libations help me to unwind.
10. What is your favorite dessert?
My favorite desserts are bread pudding, anything custard based, cream puffs, pudding pies and vanilla ice cream. I grew up falling in love with my mother’s cream puffs as well as her chocolate chip cookies. Although I do, oddly, prefer oatmeal raisin. I haven’t always been much of a dessert kind of guy.