Bloomfield 17-year-old Sanchioli is voted Best Teen Chef in America
A Bloomfield teenager is enjoying his second expense-paid trip to New York City, earned from his culinary skills.
Nathan Sanchioli, 17, placed first in the regional Best Teen Chef competition, held in March at The Art Institute of Pittsburgh's International Culinary School.
Later, he went on to win the Best Teen Chef in America contest. Corporate judges from participating Art Institutes across the country chose the national winner based on each regional winner's cooking scores and essays. Sanchioli — who made dishes including butter-poached shrimp on toast and brined chicken in a white-wine pan sauce — had the highest score.
He won an expense-paid trip to New York City, where he is touring the Food Network studios and enjoying fine dining.
Sanchioli — the son of John and Lisa Sanchioli, whose family owns Sanchioli Brothers Bakery in Bloomfield — also competed with other teen chefs in the Food Network's “Chopped” scholarship contest in May. He and three other finalist teen chefs competed in New York City for a $40,000 scholarship to The International Culinary Schools at the Art Institutes.
Though Sanchioli didn't win this competition, he says he enjoyed the experience. For the “Chopped” competition, he and his competitors did the Open Your Basket Challenge, where they got a basket of ingredients and whipped up a recipe using them. Sanchioli made a pan-seared veal T-bone with bacon, collard greens and buttered corn with cotija cheese. Two judges from “Chopped” — Chris Shepherd and Jamie Bissonnette, executive chefs of Underbelly and Toro restaurants, respectively — told Sanchioli to apply for internships with them later.
The recent graduate of Central Catholic High School has earned a total of $18,000 in scholarship money for his college career, beginning this summer at The Art Institute of Pittsburgh, where he will pursue a degree in culinary management. He hopes to own his own restaurant someday.
Sanchioli says he got his love for cooking from his grandparents, who made a lot of homemade pasta, along with the popular family bakery. But he doesn't just imitate what he grew up with in his cooking family.
“One main thing with cooking is you tend to end up developing your own style and not mimicking someone else's,” Sanchioli says.
He can't easily classify his style, because it's so variable.
“It depends on what you're thinking of on a certain day,” he says. “I would definitely classify it as my own.
“I think everybody's end goal is ... to own their own restaurant,” he says, pointing out that one has to know both sides of the business: the cooking and the business management. “Being stubborn and just saying I can only know one part — that can only get you so far.”
Art Inzinga, a chef at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, has mentored Sanchioli, whom Inzinga says shows good skill in Italian cooking, and basic sauteeing and grilling.
“So far, he has some good techniques,” Inzinga says. “He's comfortable doing what he knows. I think what helped Nathan out was he didn't try to do what he couldn't do. He knew what kind of techniques he was comfortable with.”
Inzinga — a Bloomfield native and a graduate of Central Catholic High School — sees a bright future for Sanchioli as a chef.
“If he continues to apply himself as he has, I think ... he'll have a good future in the industry.”
Kellie B. Gormly is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-320-7824.