A Bit About Chef Nickolas Rizzo
I was born and raised in Northern Italy. I trained in Fine dining kitchens around the world and am fluent in Italian, French, and English. My attention to detail and love for food was passed onto me from my grandmother who I spent many days with in the kitchen.
I met my wife while on a J1 Visa in Maine working at the White Barn Inn in Kennebunkport. Her background has also been in pastry as she has a degree from the Culinary Institute of America and has worked Front of House management positions in Luxury Resorts.
We both enjoy the production and execution of small events in private homes. It is special to have people enjoy company in the space they feel most comfortable.
The Full Story
Born and raised in Oleggio, Italy, I fell in love–as a young boy–with cooking through my grandmother’s nurturing and loving influence. It was my grandmother who made all the meals for our family, and her love for feeding the family was inspiring. Watching over me, my grandmother always gave me tasks to keep me busy. I would jump in the kitchen daily to help make all her traditional recipes.
In Italy, we are motivated at an early age to begin thinking about a professional career. At 14, I knew I wanted to attend Culinary School, and I did. Called, Istituto Professionale per I servizi e la Ristorazione it was a beautiful Culinary School close to home. I enjoyed my time there, and each summer I would apprentice in different hotels to gain experience.
When I was 17, I made a life-changing decision to accept my first kitchen position, far away from my family in Oleggio, at The Hotel Bellevue in Cogne, Valle D`Aosta, Italy. Hotel Bellevue had one Michelin Star, and it was at The Hotel Bellevue where I began to see and experience big changes in my life. I had my independence. I was meeting new mentors and friends, and I was starting my own life. The four years I spent at Hotel Bellevue molded my career in so many positive ways. I learned how to maintain a consistently conscientious and responsible work ethic through strict attention to detail and an emphasis on efficiency.
But after four years of a most valuable and enriching learning experience at The Hotel Bellevue, I was ready to make another move and decided that move would be to spend a winter season in Switzerland. Initially, I was nervous about being in a country where languages other than Italian were spoken, but I accepted a position at The Rhodania Hotel’s restaurant that had 4 Stars. Along with building my culinary skills, I overcame my fear of a new language and was speaking fluent French by the end of the season.
Moving to Switzerland, I caught the travel and language bug and was ready, after that winter season in Switzerland, to set on my course for the UK and learn English. I began by working for The Waterside Inn in Bray, Berkshire, United Kingdom, which held three Michelin Stars. At The Waterside Inn, I was working for top chefs Michel and Alain Roux. Cooking beside 30 other chefs, it was the largest kitchen I have ever worked in. I spent every day striving to improve my skills in an extremely competitive kitchen environment. My three years at The Waterside Inn polished my knife and culinary skills, as well as expanded my knowledge of ingredients and plating techniques.
My eagerness to learn English inspired my new goal to live in the USA. I have always liked American Culture, especially country music, and what I saw of American life on TV and in movies made me think I would really like working and living in the USA. I applied to many restaurants throughout the country and was finally approved for a J1 Visa at the Relais & Chateaux White Barn Inn & Spa in Kennebunk, Maine, under the renowned Relais & Chateaux Gourmand Chef Jonathan Cartwright. When I received this news, I was the happiest person in the world! My dream was coming true. The year I spent at The White Barn Inn went by far too quickly, but I knew even after my first few weeks at The White Barn Inn that the United States was the country where I wanted to make a professional life for myself.
Unfortunately, I had to leave the States after the J1 Visa expired and spent a winter season in Likweti Lodge in White River, South Africa. Africa is one of the most interesting places I have been able to live in. So much of the time, I felt as if I were living in a three-dimensional (or virtual reality) issue of The National Geographic with all the wild animals. Following that winter, I moved back to Italy and spent two years at a restaurant owned by one of my friends, but that whole time I was trying to find a way to come back to America.
In 2018, I was finally approved to return to The White Barn Inn (now called White Barn Inn & Spa, Auberge Resort) for a second J1 Visa under Executive Chef Matthew Padilla. This year was amazing, and since my return to The White Barn Inn, I have been studiously researching the best way to stay in the country.
Initially, I was working towards being approved for an O-1 Visa. Wanting sincerely to give back in kind to aspiring young chefs–having been given so much culinary knowledge by Chefs Cartwright along with unparalleled opportunities in Europe to grow in my profession–I want especially to influence a younger generation of culinary students and teach them that hard work pays off. I have learned to be patient in building my career and am superlatively thankful for all the learning experiences that have come my way. Some day, I want to be a part of this great country by opening my own restaurant where I will be able to mentor young chefs in the same way that I have been mentored and taught to aspire for excellence in all that I undertake.
I met my wife at the White Barn Inn. We have now finished the green card process and have started our own Private Chef Company. Rizzo Hospitality, LLC will provide an intimate fine dining experience in private homes. We have relocated to Las Vegas, NV, and are excited to continue our business here.
Let us handle the meals at your next special event.