Tramonto is a highly respected professional in the culinary world. He owns
several restaurants and has been featured in USA Today, The New York Times, Wall
Street Journal, and has appeared on Iron Chef America and was a
contestant on Top Chef Masters. He is also a Christian, and he shares
his story in his new book, Scars of a Chef.
written cookbooks, but this is a different kind of book for you, isn’t
It’s an extremely personal book of my journey, really just kind of a memoir and
the wonderful journey that my life was taken over the last 30 years in the
it like working in the restaurant business?
extremely aggressive field as far as competition these days. People are
striving now, coming out of culinary schools to not only become chefs, but then
to obtain their own restaurants or multiple restaurants, and it’s become such a
multimedia world with Bravo and the Food Network and the Cooking Channel and
all these multimedia outlets, having your own television show or books or
multiple books, so it’s very competitive. It’s really become extremely popular
and turned into something that I never thought it would become. Back in the day
when I was growing up, there was Julia Child and the Galloping
you tell us about your restaurants?
last 10 years I’ve had a restaurant called Tru in Chicago, which is a fine
dining restaurant, high-end restaurant. I also have a place called Tramonto
Steak and Seafood and the R.T. Lounge on the north shore of Chicago. And the
last year I’ve been in New Orleans getting ready to open up a new restaurant in
the French Quarter in the Royal Sonesta Hotel called Resturant R’evolution with
my partner, Chef John Folse.
started at Wendy’s and worked alongside Dave Thomas on occasion.
It was the
first Wendy’s in Rochester, N.Y., that had opened when my dad went to prison
when I was a kid. I left school and was getting into trouble and my mom was a
lunchroom lady during the day and a cleaning lady at night, and I needed a job.
I needed to help out. I’ve always grown up in a family that loved food. My
grandparents had both lived with me at one time from Italy, so at least I got
my arms around it.
were aiming to reach the top of that “kitchen ladder.” To what do you attribute
your overall success?
just this dedication, of relentlessness of wanting to learn this trade and
wanting to do this regardless of the obstacles, and then I think the bigger
piece was God. … Now that I may have a culinary stage to be able to be
respected on, I think that was the purpose of my life and my journey now, to be
able to be used by God, to be able to speak into my industry because my
industry still has a lot of excess and darkness. There is a lot of darkness in
my industry because it has such high alcohol and drug and divorce rates and
just so many things that are negative and dark.
suffered a divorce yourself and used drugs, so you can relate, can’t you?
much so. We serve the God of the second chance, and I think the message of this
book is God loves us so much that He’ll continue to bring light into our life
and second chances to help us to draw [closer] to Him.
would you like to encourage the Christian retailers in selling this book?
continues to show the God of the second chance, the love of God, the hope that
is in Christ, and it’s certainly a great snapshot of the behind-the-scenes of
the restaurant industry, of being in the kitchens—a different take on Kitchen Confidential, if you will, but from a
Christian viewpoint and from somebody who has spent his whole life in
to purchase this book.