Patrons may not get the chance to meet the mastermind behind Washington DC’s upscale Italian restaurant, Bibiana Osteria Enoteca, but all should take comfort in knowing that executive chef Jake Addeo knows a thing or two about Italian cooking. Why? He grew up in an Italian-American home with a mother who turned every family event into a party in the kitchen. And the youngster was right there, helping out. “My mom had influence on me,” he said. “She has Germanic and Northern Italian roots. I thought all we ate was Italian, but really there were elements of Austrian flavors and profiles.”
But helping out his mother was only a preamble to his selecting his career. As he explained, his father owned an upscale Italian seafood restaurant
in Montauk, at the far end of Long Island, New York. “I helped him open it,” he said. “I went to college and studied hotel and restaurant management, and worked with my dad every summer. I started cooking there after a couple of years.”
Upon graduation, Addeo realized that he did not want front-desk hotel work, but rather follow his passion for cooking. He attended the Culinary Institute of America (CIA), and found that that was a life-changing step. “It was a two-year program,” he said. “its general focus was on savory cooking, with only one month dedicated to pastry baking.”
After graduation, Addeo earned a scholarship to go to Italy to attend a culinary institute for foreign students, ICIF, and after four months, he did an externship at a truffle-oriented restaurant that lasted for two years. During that time, he also traveled to numerous restaurants throughout the country.
Upon returning to the United States, Addeo landed in Manhattan, where he worked at Felidia Restaurant (owned by famous chef Lidia Bastianich
) for four years and then moved to Esca, owned by Bastianich’s son Joe, for four more years. “I even accompanied Lidia to Italy,” he said, “and even cooked at the Vatican.”
Afterwards, Addeo was recruited to open Abboccato in Manhattan
, and after five years as its executive chef, he decided to take a break, and headed to Hong Kong, where he opened BLT Steak and BLT Burger. “I worked there for one-and-a-half-years,” he said, but a local investor asked him to open an Italian restaurant, named Doppio Zero in Sheung Wan, a district in Hong Kong. “I made it a pasta-centric restaurant,” he said.
And then, deciding to return to the United States, Addeo was linked through various references to Ashok Bajaj, who offered him the position at Bibiana. “I had heard a lot of great things about DC,” he said, and with his family moved to the city. “DC is such a change from New York City and Hong Kong,” he said. “You can step outside of the city, and be in the country, and Bibiana is one of the best restaurants in the city.”For more Washington DC dining and travel news, click here
. Alexandra Greeley is the D.C. Restaurant Editor and a food writer for The Daily Meal.