Angie Rito

Angie Rito


Chef & Partner of Don Angie and Quality Italian


The most impactful job in my career was my position as a line cook at Torrisi Italian Specialties. It was incredibly inspiring to work amongst such talented people, and it was there that I learned the value of striving for perfection with every plate of food I produced. I learned to push myself harder than I ever had before, and because of that experience, I continue to push and challenge myself just as hard today.


EXPERIENCE
I’ve learned the value of being organized and proactive and how crucial it is when opening new restaurants and leading teams of people. The more experience I’ve gained, the more I’ve been able to foresee what questions might arise and to look at the whole picture and think about how I can lead my team to be more organized and efficient. I’ve learned always to be thinking ahead.
I’ve always known that I belong in this industry. I come from a very food-centric Italian American family, and it’s sort of in my blood. My family owns and operates an Italian bakery. When I was a child, my father used to plop me down on a workbench to play with a ball of dough. The kitchen is always where I’ve felt most comfortable -- I prefer to work with my hands, to create things, and I also have a deep passion for hospitality and for taking care of other people.
First and foremost, I seek out positive attitudes when hiring. I believe that having a “can-do” approach is necessary to succeed in the hospitality industry. We work very hard in the restaurant industry, and new challenges are always arising. Everyone needs to be able to face those challenges with a positive attitude to get the job done.
Being able to remain calm and confident during stressful times is incredibly important. I’ve seen many chefs lose their cool when challenges arise, and it just makes the situation worse. The staff tends to feel and mimic the mental state of their leader – if a chef is visibly stressed, the cooks will sense that energy and adopt it themselves.
As a leader, I think it’s essential to have empathy. It is a crucial skill in effectively communicating with respect while understanding perceptions/feelings from others' points of view.
I find the most inspiration by experiencing other chefs’ food. My favorite hobby is dining out; this is not exclusive to whatever the newest, hottest restaurant in town might be. I enjoy finding authentic restaurants both locally and abroad, from all types of cuisines, and experiencing the food and trying to understand the people of those cultures through that process. I feel that food connects people emotionally in a lot of ways, and I strive to make an emotional connection with the food I create.
My favorite cooking resource is "On Food and Cooking" by Harold McGee. I tell a lot of new cooks about this book and encourage them to read it. It delves into the history and science behind all things food-related. It offers a unique perspective on cooking, and I think it can help its reader to be a better cook. In my opinion, if you understand the history of where something came from and the science behind what happens when you manipulate ingredients in various ways, you will have better instincts as to how to use those ingredients in various applications.

Disclaimer: Individuals featured in the Inspirational Career Timelines section have been nominated by peers, colleagues and/or other members of the hospitality industry. It is to the best of our knowledge that each individual has demonstrated leadership and acted as a positive role model for others.


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James Beard Award