CHEF DE CUISINE
As Chef de Cuisine at Leonelli Taberna, Ben Cianciosi works hand-in-hand with Chef Benno to continuously develop the menu and lead the kitchen team. Born and raised in Syracuse, NY, Ben moved to Missouri is his teens. Entirely self-trained, Ben’s first restaurant job out of high school was as a dishwasher—a position from which many of the greatest chefs get their start. As his culinary interest grew, Ben went on to become a cook at a local Missouri restaurant, Sycamore. He spent the next five years learning everything from charcuterie, to pasta making, and pastry, and rising through the ranks to Sous Chef. Ben notes, “It was a very nurturing environment. They made everything in-house, and were focused on mentoring the team, which provided me with a great opportunity to grow my skills.”
In 2012 Ben’s brother (also a cook), convinced him to make the move to New York City. He began working at Brooklyn’s Bar Corvo, which is where he developed a passion for Italian cuisine. After two years the owner introduced Ben to Chef Benno, who was running the kitchen at Lincoln Ristorante. “I was immediately drawn to the organization and attention to detail. And even though the technique was refined, the food was relatable and accessible,” says Ben. He went on to spend three years working at Lincoln, first as a line cook, then Sous Chef. During this time he learned the business-side of restaurants, including food costs and management.
After four years at Lincoln, Ben left for a 10-month trip to Europe where he gained first-hand experience with farming, viticulture, and the provenance of ingredients. Upon his return to New York, he joined the Leonelli opening team. Says Ben, “The best part about working at Leonelli is the people—so many have followed Chef Benno here to create this venture. Being able to have guests and employees leave happier than when they came in is something I enjoy every day.”