Winner, Season 7, Top Chef
Top Chefs & Brews Reception, Friday June 22, 2012
Bravo’s Season Seven Top Chef Winner, Kevin Sbraga discovered his passion for food and blending flavors while growing up in his father’s bakery, which he owned for 44 years in his native Willingboro, New Jersey - the place he still calls home. He credits both of his parents for inspiring him to love cooking and teaching him the importance of quality ingredients, customer service and following your passion. Some of his finest memories involve family meals or creating dishes with his mother or father – Sbraga said, “often just the scent from a key ingredient in one of those dishes can bring him back to that place in his childhood.”
Sbraga eagerly enrolled in culinary classes during high school, upon graduation in 1997 he went on to attend Johnson & Wales’, College of Culinary Arts in Providence, Rhode Island. At Johnson & Wales, Sbraga studied abroad in Brussels and earned an esteemed apprenticeship with Chef Dominique Michou at the world class L’Alban Chambon Restaurant in the Hotel Metropole. Under Chef Michou, Sbraga became grounded in classic French cuisine with a back to basics approach that emphasized quality raw materials and fresh seasonal ingredients to produce noble, valued dishes.
After graduation from Johnson & Wales, Sbraga worked briefly in New Jersey before moving to Florida to return to culinary school at Johnson & Wales’ North Miami campus. While he was a student, Sbraga also worked at the Ritz Carlton in Naples, a two hour trek from his school on the east coast to the west coast of Florida. The commute proved to be well worth his time as he was mentored by distinguished, veteran chefs Arnaud Berthelier and Lawrence McFadden. Under the tutelage of Frenchmen Berthelier, Sbraga refined his knowledge of contemporary French cuisine, honing in a finer attention to detail and unique combinations of flavors. Chef Lawrence McFadden, later served as culinary director for all Ritz Carlton hotels, instilled in Sbraga a keen sense of the business of restaurants and the intangibles necessary to be successful. In 2003, Sbraga moved with his wife - a pastry chef wife - where he held positions at Joel Antunes’ Joel Restaurant, Guenter Seeger’s Seeger’s, and with the Buckhead Life Restaurant Group, owners of 13 restaurants regionally.
Upon returning to Philadelphia in 2004, Sbraga won acclaim at La Mas Perrier, the Main Line restaurant of internationally famed Chef Georges Perrier. With Perrier, Chef Sbraga reconceptualized the suburban Wayne, PA café into a less formal restaurant with more global influences. After one year, Sbraga went on to work with famed restaurateur Stephen Starr on menu development at the former Washington Square and then left to helm the Chef de Cuisine position at the former The Grill at the Ritz Carlton Philadelphia from 2005 to 2007.
Chef Sbraga then worked as Director of Culinary Development for notable Philadelphia restaurateur, Jose Garces, expanding the Garces Restaurants Groups’ holdings to (4) restaurants: Amada, Tinto, Distrito and Chifa. Among his biggest accomplishments, Chef Sbraga’s culinary talent garnered him national attention as he was chosen as a semifinalist at the famed Bocuse d’Or USA culinary competition. Fondly remembered as one of the “toughest meals he has ever created,” Sbraga excelled in the meat dish competition impressing the world’s most prestigious chefs and restaurant industry notables.
In August 2009, Chef Kevin Sbraga joined Rat’s Restaurant at Grounds For Sculpture excited to bring a fresh outlook and new energy to the restaurant’s already sterling reputati