About the Chef

My name is John Carminati, and I've been cooking in professional kitchens for 12 years. I've worked my way though kitchens big and small, and overseen countless special events. I've seen many styles of cuisines and tasted food from around the world - from Dutch cooking in the Netherlands, to Halal street vendors in Kuala Lumpur. Regardless of where I was or how I got there, I've tried my best to learn something new at each place.

I started my culinary journey in a little cafe in a small town in Louisiana, just outside of New Orleans.  This also happens to be the birthplace of one of my favorite beers. I think growing up in this small town gives me much to think about with helping the small businesses and an appreciation for keeping it local. I learned a lot of cooking fundamentals and the grass roots of good home food at the cafe. Soon, however, I felt it was time for me to move forward in my culinary endeavors - to better develop my passion for cooking great food. I did what anyone else would do in that situation, head off to school! So I left my comfort zone and everyone I had ever known behind, packed up my knives, and moved to Orlando, FL where I attended Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts.

Young and eager to learn, I wanted to know it all. I determined to study hard for those A's to stay at the top of my class. I focused on my grades, became class President, and graduated with honors, in January of 2005. 

Like every college student, social life was key - but turns out, you need money to hang. I landed an interview for a restaurant at a large Disney hotel called Swan and Dolphin. Over the next few years I hopped around from outlet to outlet within the resort, and eventually earned the opportunity to run my own show as Executive Chef of one of the venues.

I spent some time working for "The Mouse" (as the locals would say) inside a beautiful restaurant at Epcot. Working for Disney had its ups and downs. I walked away with the knowledge of how to understand people better and developed my patience in teaching others.

As time moved on, I searched for the next spot to help me learn something new and soon found myself in Charleston SC.  The city has a very local-driven life style.  Supporting the farms and local fishermen were as important to the community as anything else. I cooked in a kitchen on upper King Street called Fish, and was lucky enough to work with some of Chuck Town's finest chefs and amazing people.

Next, the opportunity to do a little bit of traveling came my way.  I found myself on the other side of the pond, as a Personal Chef in Holland to be more exact. Living overseas taught me to be humble and to look outside the box, literally! I've always been a big fan of scratch cooking and using the freshest ingredients available, and in the Netherlands, fresh markets were easy to come by (at least in my part of town). Going to the market was just a part of normal, everyday life - not something you had to do - to get food in the house. I loved my time there, and enjoyed a great lifestyle.

My next stop took me to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, where I opened my first bistro. My world revolved around chalk board menus, a selection of the best beer and wine, and a menu that changed daily. It was a small operation, but my guests were happy and continued to come back for more.

When I felt my time on the other side of the world was up, I packed up my knives again and moved back Stateside.

I moved to the south part of Tampa, FL not understanding just how "small town" this big town would be.  I searched for jobs up and down, finally able to try my knives out on a few lines, but couldn't find a fit. Taking the time to get to know the local community a bit better, I discovered many hidden gems (and 2 other favorite local beers!) behind packed restaurants in the process. I took a great position on the line of a local-driven restaurant on Harbor Island, where the family-like atmosphere was right up my alley. One day I was given the opportunity to spend a day working at the local farm where the restaurant receives all its produce. From that day on, I was hooked on growing my own!

A temporary move has put me and my lovely wife back in Louisiana where we soak up the sunshine with our backyard flock and puppy. I get to grow the food I love and enjoy to cook.  We try to keep everything local and fresh, where all the ingredients I need are right in my own backyard.

I've made a some great friends along the way, and have been able to hold on to a few. Although, I am sure I will once again find the ones I've lost - it's just a matter of time.

Everyday I try to learn something new.  It's up to me to keep the fire in my passion for good food and great cooking alive.  I just hope I can pass along some part of my passion and knowledge to others along the way.

~Chef John
"Remember, you're the chef"