Entrepreneur by Way of Italy: Meet Chef Gerri
By Carly DeFilippo
“Everyone comes into a room with a history,” says Chef Gerri Sarnataro, and it’s sure that Gerri herself—the owner of a successful cooking school in Umbria and a member of ICE’s Pastry & Baking Arts faculty—is no exception. Like many professionals in the culinary field, Gerri’s career path was not a straight one; it was a combination of many parallel pursuits.
After entering into the culinary field as a 30-year-old career changer, Gerri made a name for herself as a chef and caterer for New York City's fashion elite. Yet, as her reputation continued to grow, her personal interests increasingly pulled her across the Atlantic. She spent the first 15 years of her career rigorously exploring the culinary riches of France, but it wasn't until she turned her attention to Italy - the country of her ancestors - that Gerri's entrepreneurial imagination kicked into high gear. Soon enough, Gerri happened upon a small workshop for sale in Umbria. It was there that she founded Cucina della Terra, an intimate school where she now shares her passion for local products and traditional techniques with other culinary enthusiasts.
Today, Gerri's career is truly international, spending three months at a time with career students - like alumni Clarisa Martino and Zac Young - in ICE's pastry kitchens, then jetting back to Italy to lead gastronomic tours and locavore cooking classes. Her schedule may be just as grueling as the days when she served such fashion stars as Oscar de la Renta, but now, the menu is created entirely on her terms.