Have questions about a recipe or cooking technique? Interested in private cooking lessons? Email me at NicotraKitchen@gmail.com
Born in a small town near Palermo and raised in the beautiful city of Torino, Italy…
I moved to New York in 1996 to become an Executive Chef of one of Manhattan’s acclaimed Italian restaurants. My appetite began at the kitchen table with my mother, a passionate home cook, and my father, an enthusiastic gardener.
After earning my Culinary Degree in Torino, I traveled and cooked in Germany and France before returning to Sicily, where I earned two Michelin stars before the age of 30.
Soon afterwards, I arrived in fast, fun, and furious New York City and worked as the Executive Chef of Lidia Bastianich’s flagship restaurant, Felidia. The restaurant earned three stars from the New York Times, and USA Today named it number #2 in its year-round up of restaurants around the world during his time there. I appeared on several television shows including Public Television’s Lidia’s Kitchen and Lidia’s Italy and Food Network’s Iron Chef and co-authored the cookbook, Felidia: Recipes from My Flagship Restaurant, with Lidia Bastianich and Tanya Bastianich Manuali (Alfred A. Knopf, 2019).
My appetite evolved as an enthusiastic resident of the “city that never sleeps,” and I loved late-night dinners at the amazing, ethnic eateries of Manhattan. Four years after my arrival in the United States, I got married and eventually had three children and moved to the suburbs. My late-night meals continued at home with my wife, Shelly. In fact, she went to bed with the kids and woke up again to eat with me and share my passion for food.
My goal at home was to experiment with new recipes that were not necessarily Italian; her rule was that it required easy clean-up.
It is 2020, and New York temporarily closed many of its restaurants, including the one where I worked for almost 25 years. I am now consulting, teaching cooking classes, and cooking lunch and dinner everyday for my family. As my children continue to share their likes, dislikes, and intolerances, my recipes continue to evolve. I promise to share my most popular selection of dishes from my days of cooking at home and add step-by-step and ingredient-by-ingredient tips that have helped my children learn more about food and cooking. For seasoned home cooks, I’ll add a “Chef It Up” tip so that you can take these recipes to another chef-inspired level.
Education and Memberships
I graduated from the Istituto Professionale Statale Colombatto (Institute of Food, Wine and Hospitality) in Turin, Italy. I have a New York City Health Department Food Protection Certificate and completed my AllerTrain ANSI Accredited Gluten-Free and Food Allergy Training.
I belong to and support a number of non profit organizations, including AICNY (an organization made up of Italian culinary chefs upholding the strongest values of Italian cuisine abroad) and the James Beard Foundation. For more than 30 years, the James Beard Foundation has highlighted the centrality of food culture in our daily lives and provides scholarships and industry programs that educate and empower leaders in our community.