Platelist: Chef Shea Gallante's Journey From Pizzeria to Fine Dining

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It was under David Bouley that Gallante said he honed his creative vision, studying the tasting menus and the complexities of various dishes. He spent three years as the Chef-de-cuisine.

"I love the gratification of creativity," he said. "Of creating a restaurant and have an environment that people are yearning to go to and they are happy in that environment."

Shea Gallante on Creating a Menu: 'Creativity Comes in Waves'

In 2004, Gallante was handpicked to be the executive chef at the CRU restaurant. Critics praised Gallante's creative menus, and he earned three stars from The New York Times, a Michelin Star and three stars in New York Magazine. The following year, Gallante was named one of Food & Wine magazine's Best New Chefs, and Bon Appetit named CRU one of its 50 Hot Restaurants.

While at CRU, Gallante said he started to figure out what worked and what didn't. More importantly, he added, he started to learn how to cook for the customer.

"I've definitely learned in the last five to seven years more about what the customer wants," he said. "[For] six or seven years it was more about what I wanted. I think that you evolve. You learn as you go along."

After a successful run at CRU, Galllante left to partner with the renowned chef Stratis Morfogen and open their own restaurant, Ciano, in 2010. Back to running his own business, Gallante created menus using the farm-fresh, seasonal ingredients that were so important in his youth.

"Creativity seems like it comes in waves," he said. "There's time where I feel like I can sit down and write 10 menus and then there may be three months before a remotely OK idea pops into my head...it's an ongoing process."

While overseeing the cooking responsibilities, Gallante also takes on the daily grind of payroll, staffing and other owner's duties at Ciano.

"I like to micro-manage," he said.

Outside the restaurant, Gallante said he carries on his family tradition of Sunday night dinners with his wife and young children.

"I'm usually off on Sundays so on my night off we usually have dinner together," he said. "You know, opening a restaurant is really difficult. It's a lot of hours, it's a lot of work...so it's like one day to pack in full of family events."

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