chef-name: John Coletta

John Coletta, a first generation Italian-American, is a chef, restaurateur, author and respected veteran in the Chicago and international culinary communities. As Executive Chef and Managing Partner of Quartino Ristorante & Wine Bar, John preserves the authenticity of regional Italian cuisine, through honed culinary techniques and authentic Italian ingredients.

John’s summers spent in central and southern Italy also cultivated his interest in Italian gastronomy and culture. While spending time in Italia, the concept that meals were the most important part of the day made it obvious to John what his career path would be. “It was a natural evolution for me to become a chef,” he recalls.

John set off with his degree in hotel and restaurant management to apprentice in the legendary St. Regis and Waldorf Astoria Hotels, the Four Seasons Restaurant and Le Coup de Fusil, and with such chefs as Arno Schmidt, Seppi Renggli, Yannick Cam and Andre Rene. After seven years, he went on to train under Alain Ducasse at Louis XV in Monte Carlo, Joel Rubuchon in Paris, and Three-Star Michelin chefs Pierre Wynants and Pierre Romeyer in Brussels, Belgium.

Then as Executive Chef at Nikolai’s Roof of the Hilton Atlanta, John earned a Four-Star Award from Mobil. He next reigned over ten different restaurants at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas, followed by the Five-Star Shangri-La Hotel in Singapore.

When he became a culinary Olympian gold medalist in the 1984 Culinary Olympics, John went on to snare another gold medal in Frankfurt, Germany in 1992 as part of the Culinary Olympic Team U.S.A.

John then opened the acclaimed Caliterra restaurant in Chicago’s Streeterville neighborhood as Executive Chef, and that is where Great Chefs caught up with him while shooting Great Chefs of America.

In 2004, John embarked on a partnership with Steve Lombardo and Larry Shane to bring his vision of a classic, urban-Italian ristorante to life. John infused Quartino Ristorante & Wine Bar’s seasonally driven menu with authentic regional preparations of rustic Italian recipes – many of which date back 200 years. His preparations of house-cured and aged Salumi, such as Soppressata, Salamette Pancetta and Duck Prosciutto, along with cheeses made daily in-house, are a nod to John’s love and respect for La Vera Cucina Italiana. In short, with the creation of Quartino’s menu, John stayed true to the same culinary philosophy that he has held since the beginning of his career: Prepare Italian food, with Italian passion.

Quartino Ristorante & Wine Bar opened its doors in December of 2005, and is showcasing the flavors and traditions of Italia’s most vibrant regions to Chicago diners. Quartino is the recipient of the coveted Ospitalita Italiana, which is awarded by the Italian government and recognizes restaurants which uphold the traditions of Italian culture.