Chef, Mario Tolentino
Born and raised in San Francisco, his love for
food, and passion for travel have brought Tolentino to all corners of the U.S.
and overseas in search of new cultures and cuisines. Trained in modern and
classical cooking techniques, Tolentino’s “New American” cuisine is a mélange
of flavors and styles inspired by his travels and experiences.
Marrying his dynamic personality with
his serious skills in the kitchen, Tolentino was recently featured on the Food
Network’s popular cooking competition show, “Chopped.” Rising to this
incredibly competitive and highly stressful occasion, Tolentino not only won
his show (Season 4, Episode 2), but also was invited back for Chopped
Champions, which aired September 21, 2010.
After attending the California
Culinary Academy in San Francisco, Tolentino spent the next 12 years traveling
coast to coast, working with high caliber chefs in their award-winning
kitchens. Tolentino began his career in Coral Gables, Miami at the mobil four-star
restaurant Norman’s where he worked as garde manager under executive chef
Norman Van Alken. Two years later, Tolentino returned to San Francisco to join
AQUA (another Mobil Four-Star restaurant) as tournat under executive chef
Michael Mina. In 2004, Tolentino went back to Florida and spent a year working
as a one-man sauté station at Pacific Time in Miami Beach before returning to
the now Michelin Two-Star restaurant AQUA, this time as corporate sous chef
with Laurent Manrique. After
opening 3 restaurants with Manrique, the chef decided to make the move overseas
to Barcelona, Spain, where he fully immersed himself into the culture and
cuisine of the Catalan people. Taking advantage of his location in Spain, he
toured many of the gastronomic centers of Europe
Tolentino moved to Kona Coast, Hawaii to embark on a new industry venture.
There he founded Can Cook Cuisines, a personal chef business preparing
residential dinners and events for some of the most high-end clientele
including the Millionaires Club of the Kona Coast. He began with a simple set
of goals: to create memorable dining experiences for clients in their own
homes. Though his goals may be quite simple; there is nothing simple about his
food. “I interpret cuisine in sophisticated, innovative ways,” said Tolentino.
“My approach revolves around farm-to-table relationships, starting with seasonal
produce, meats and seafood.”
The hunger for restaurant life lured
Tolentino to New Yok City where he worked at The iconic Oakroom in The Plaza
hotel, and was then named Executive Chef of Juliet Supperclub, where he created
a dynamic menu based on, international and ethnic style street food. Tolentino
has been featured in, NY
Times grub street, Eater, NY Post, AM NY, BlackBook magazine, Business
Traveler, Village Voice……….and more!