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Green, fruity olive oil, rare Italian cheeses, woodsy porcini mushrooms…the riches of Italian gastronomy are every day specialties for Tony Mantuano, Spiaggia's four-star chef who is known across the country as a culinary force to be reckoned with. Over the last two decades, Mantuano has been thrilling diners with some of the best Italian and Mediterranean fare to be had this side of Sardiania, first at Spiaggia and then at his own restaurant, Tuttaposto. Now back at Spiaggia, Mantuano's food is better than ever.

In 1983, Mantuano spent a year in Italy learning all he could about traditional Italian cooking. He worked at a number of notable, Guide Michelin-rated restaurants near Milan, including Dal Pescatore in Canetto Sul'Oglio, Albergo del Sole in Maleo, Al Bersagliere in Goito, and Da Romano on the Tuscan coast in Viareggio. He learned to prepare regional specialties that few Americans had ever experienced.

When Spiaggia opened in 1984, Mantuano was widely acclaimed as a trailblazer of fine Italian cuisine. William Rice of the Chicago Tribune called it "the best high-end Italian restaurant between the coasts." Many others shared his opinion. In his four-star Chicago Tribune review, Phil Vettel described Spiaggia as "a jewel" and the food as "spectacular."

Mantuano's Tuttaposto faithfully represented dishes from countries around the Mediterranean. Wine Spectator, Gourmet and The New York Times heralded the trendsetter as one of Chicago's – and the nation's – most innovative, ambitious, and original restaurants. Mantuano continues to operate his family's restaurant, Mangia, in his native Kenosha, Wisconsin.

When he returned to the Spiaggia kitchen in 2000, Mantuano reshaped the restaurant's traditional menu into "an exemplar of contemporary Italian cuisine," according to Laura Levy Shatkin at the Chicago Reader. He is once again earning rave reviews for signature dishes such as Crescenza Cheese-Filled Pasta Pillows with Parmigiano-Reggiano, Brown Butter, Rosemary and Garlic, and a Succulent Roasted Turbot with Sunchoke Puree, Porcini Mushrooms and Veal Mushroom Sauce.

Under Mantuano's direction, Spiaggia unveiled Chicago's first Cava di Stagionatura: a climate controlled cheese cave that houses as many as 45 artisanal varieties from Italian and American producers.

Mantuano is the author, with co-author Cathy Mantuano, of "The Spiaggia Cookbook: Eleganza Italiana in Cucina." Published by Chronicle Books and released in December 2004, it has been chosen as one of the twenty-five best cookbooks of 2004 by Food & Wine. He also has appeared nationally on CNN and PBS, is a regular contributor to the local ABC, CBS and FOX affiliates in Chicago, and has been a guest on popular syndicated food talk shows, such as "The Frank DeCaro Show" and "Food Talk with Rocco DiSpirito."

In 2004, "Zagat Survey" rated Spiaggia the "Best Italian Restaurant in Chicago" and Spiaggia was named one of the top five restaurants in Chicago by Chicago Magazine. Mantuano also received Chicago Tribune's prestigious "Good Eating Award." His national acclaim is heralded by his award as Best Chef: Midwest by the James Beard Foundation in 2005, and his nominations in the same category in 2002, 2003 and 2004.

Courtsey: http://www.allamericanspeakers.com/celebritytalentbios/Tony-Mantuano
 
 
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