Michael Cimarusti’s culinary journey began on the East Coast, where Cimarusti went fishing nearly every weekend. Raised in a family where Italian heritage and traditions ran deep, Cimarusti learned that cooking was more than a hobby and was fascinated by all things related to food and the restaurant world early on.
As a teenager, Cimarusti began his career, first as a dishwasher and then as an unpaid apprentice at a highly regarded bakery and pastry shop in the Washington D.C. area. After his apprenticeship, brimming with knowledge and a hands-on education, Cimarusti headed back north to his hometown where he worked in the kitchen of a family-run business that had been his personal favorite as a child.
Like many aspiring chefs, Cimarusti attended the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY, where he graduated with honors in 1990. With loads of culinary knowledge in his head and a diploma in hand, Cimarusti headed to New York City, where he worked with celebrated Chef Larry Forgione at An American Place. In 1992, he moved to New Hope, PA, where he was appointed chef de cuisine at The Forager House Restaurant.
Cimarusti later returned to Manhattan and began a three-year position at Le Cirque working alongside culinary greats such as Paul Bocuse, Gerard Boyer, and Roger Vergé. Cimarusti, however, credits the guidance of chefs Sottah Khunn and Sylvain Portay for much of his success in the kitchen. Their reverence for quality ingredients, technique, and flavor are the foundation of his cooking today.
By the time he had left Le Circque, Cimarusti had been promoted to sous-chef and had married Cristina Echiverri, who was then the pastry chef at Restaurant Zoe. Together, they took a sabbatical from New York and moved to France to continue their culinary education at La Marée and Arpège.
Upon their return to New York a year later, Cimarusti was invited by the Maccioni family to become the opening chef for Le Cirque’s new venture, Osteria Del Circo. Cimarusti, rejuvenated and invigorated from his travel abroad, proved his mettle in the kitchen when he garnered a positive two-star review from The New York Times.
Cimarusti then headed for Hollywood after accepting a position as chef de cuisine at the original Spago. But in 1997, after an exhaustive six-month search, King’s Seafood offered him a chance to run his own show as the executive chef of Water Grill. Here Cimarusti combined both his passion and knowledge for fishing with his culinary education and training. In 2005 Cimarusti opened his own locale, teaming up with Italian front-of-the-house mastermind Donato Poto to create what has become a staple in the Los Angeles culinary scene, Providence.