Raised in Houston, Grueneberg spent much of her childhood making sausage and baking wild berry pies and cinnamon rolls with her German grandparents. She opened her first business venture, a restaurant called Tastes of the World, under her school’s bleachers in the 4th grade. Destiny, and loud steamy kitchens, hearkened.
Grueneberg attended the Art Institute of Houston and attained her associate’s degree in culinary arts in 2001. That July, Grueneberg joined Brennan’s of Houston under Chef Randy Evans. She began as garde manger and worked her way up to become the restaurant’s youngest female sous chef at the age of 22 in 2003. While at Brennan’s Sarah was exposed to the epitome of southern hospitality and to a well-rounded menu of Texas Creole featuring locally driven foods, game, and fresh farm produce.
In September 2005 Grueneberg joined the award-winning team at Spiaggia, helmed by Chicago Chef Tony Mantuano. Grueneberg started on the line, which afforded her the opportunity to learn about Italian food, culture, and products. With diligence and determination, Grueneberg was promoted to purchasing sous chef in February 2007, where she developed her leadership skills and gained insight into the business operations of a restaurant. In this position, she worked closely with Executive Chef Missy Robbins. Chef Robbins, now of A Voce in Manhattan, taught Grueneberg about sourcing and ingredients, and under her tutelage Grueneberg's creativity flourished. In August 2008, Grueneberg was promoted to Chef di Cucina.
Over the past two years, Grueneberg’s growing knowledge of Italian food, culture and language has enabled her to create one-of-a-kind experiences for Spiaggia guests that ultimately led to her promotion to Executive Chef in January 2010.
To further broaden Grueneberg’s hands-on experience with Italian cuisine, she travels to Italy once a year to work with and visit some of the Italy’s best chefs and producers. Grueneberg has cooked in heralded Italian kitchens like Il San Lorenzo and Grano in Rome, Il Rigolleto in Reggiolo and Del Pescatore, the three-Michelin-starred restaurant in Canento Sul’Oligo, where Chef Tony Mantuano worked in 1984 prior to opening Spiaggia.
When not cooking at Spiaggia, Grueneberg can be found teaching Spiaggia cooking classes, leading demos at the Green City Market, practicing her Italian, and exploring Chicago’s vast culinary world.