Chef Sandy D'amato

Celebrity Chef

Sanford D'Amato is one of the most recognized culinary gurus in the foodservice industry. He's won recognition across the board for his skills in the kitchen, and has successfully launch two very successful, highly rated restaurants. Even Julia Child requested he help dish up her 80th birthday dinner--a sure sign that you've made it.

D'Amato's story begins like most other chefs'. He graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in 1974, and stayed on for a one year fellowship in the Escoffier Room. He then worked in various New York City restaurants through the 70's. In 1980, he returned home to Milwaukee's John Byron's Restaurant, where he was named among Food and Wine magazine as one of the top 25 "Hot New Chefs" in 1985.

Culinary Arts

It was only the first of a long list of acknowledgements. In 1988, Bon Appetit magazine went so far as to tout D'Amato as "one of the finest seafood chefs in the country." That same year, D'Amato was one of 12 national finalists in the American Culinary Gold Cup, Bocuse D'or. He also competed in the 1988 and 1989 American Seafood Challenge, winning one of two gold medals awarded in 1989, taking third place overall. The recognition was phenomenal, but, like his father and grandfather before him, was ready to go into business for himself. That is precisely what he did.

In December of 1989, Sanford and his wife Angela opened Sanford Restaurant in the former site of his father's and grandfather's grocery store. It has since received accolades locally and nationally in well know culinary publications, including: Food and Wine, Bon Appetit, Wine Spectator Milwaukee Magazine, Chicago Tribune, and the New York Times. Esquire magazine named it among 1990s' best new restaurants. In November of 1992, Sanford was one of 12 chefs in the nation to be personally chosen by Julia Child to cook for her 80th Birthday Celebration in her hometown of Boston. When culinary icons request you by name, you know you've arrived.

In 1994, Sanford Restaurant was awarded both the Fine Dining Hall of Fame award by Nation's Restaurant News and the DiRONA (Distinguished Restaurants of North America) Award. The following year it received the Ivy Award from Restaurants and Institutions Magazine. Sanford has consistently received the annual AAA - Four Diamond Award, and scored the highest rating for food given by the Zagat guide--29.

After being nominated for six consecutive years by the James Beard Foundation, Sanford won the Perrier Jouet Best Chef Midwest award in April of 1996. In the October, 2001 issue of Gourmet magazine, Sanford Restaurant was listed as number twenty-one of the fifty best restaurants in America. And in February 2002, Sanford was one of 45 chefs chosen nationally to cook for the Salt Lake City Olympics - United States Art of the Table.

In February of 1999, Sanford and Angela opened their second restaurant, the Coquette Cafe, in the Historic Third Ward in Milwaukee.

In his spare time, Sanford writes a weekly food column for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

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