Chef Shea Zappia started his cooking career in his father’s restaurant when he was 13 years old. The restaurant started as a humble neighborhood bar & grill in the suburbs of Buffalo, NY. The restaurant grew into a popular casual fine dining destination and he became serious about cooking professionally. Chef Shea Zappia attended culinary school at a local culinary college in Buffalo, NY. Through culinary school he was urged by one of the Chef instructors to try out for the American Culinary Federation’s Regional Hot Food Competition Team to which he served as team captain for 3 years and won 1 bronze and 2 silver medals. He was nominated as the ACF’s Student Chef of the Year in 2005 and placed second in the Northeast.
Competitions are where Chef Shea Zappia felt he gained the “classical training” and set the trajectory for the rest of his career. He was presented opportunities to go elsewhere but chose to stay in Buffalo, as it was on the cusp of a large revitalization in the Culinary Scene in which he saw an opportunity to make a name for himself and his food. He left his father’s restaurant at the age of 21 and worked in various private clubs in the city while still competing and coaching young ACF culinarians in hot food competitions. After moving around from private clubs to other restaurants in the city, he got his first sous chef job at 24 years old in a casual fine dining restaurant in South Buffalo. The owners were CIA grads and esteemed local chefs that worked in Switzerland, Austria, Jamaica and Lake Tahoe. They were pioneers of farm to table in Buffalo and also regarded as the first real “fusion” style restaurant, elevating blue collar food with international influences. After 2 years as Sous Chef, he was promoted to Executive Chef and was nominated as Best Chef of Buffalo 2013 by the Buffalo News. He served as executive chef there for 7 years until moving on to Executive Chef of Savor Restaurant in the Niagara Falls Culinary Institute, running their fine dining restaurant and retail outlets.
Chef Shea Zappia also worked part time as a private Chef for the Jacobs Family for the past 2 years, who’s patriarch serves as chairman of Delaware North and are the owners of the Boston Bruins. He currently is the Executive Chef for Sysco Foods in Upstate New York, working as a Culinary Specialist and consultant.
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