Chef Jonathan Benno ’93, A Journey to Perfection

Jonathan Benno '93, executive chef of Per Se gives a lecture and cooking demo to CIA students.
Jonathan Benno ’93,  gives a lecture and cooking demo to CIA students.

CIA Alumni Bio

Chef Jonathan Benno spent 15 years in some of the nation’s finest kitchens before working for renowned Chef Thomas Keller at Per Se. As chef de cuisine, Jonathan oversaw all aspects of the kitchen, and Food & Wine magazine recognized his talents by naming him one of its Best New Chefs of 2006. Also, the Mobil Travel Guide lauded Per Se as one of only 15 restaurants with a five-star rating, and the Michelin Guide New York City 2006 gave Per Se its most prestigious honor, a three-star rating. Jonathan is the first American-born and trained chef to earn three stars from Michelin. It was that reputation that had restaurateur Nick Valenti choosing him to open Lincoln Ristorante in 2010, an elegant Italian restaurant at Lincoln Center in New York City.

Gaining Experience

After graduating from the CIA, Chef Benno moved to San Francisco to work for fellow CIA alumnus Michael Mina ’89 at Aqua. He then joined Chef Keller at the French Laundry before testing himself in the kitchens of the Manhattan-based Restaurant Daniel and Les Célébrités. After a stint working in France, Chef Benno joined Tom Colicchio at Gramercy Tavern and, later, opened the celebrated Craft with Marco Canora in New York City.

Evelyn Hotel

After six years leading Lincoln Ristorante, Chef Benno was ready for a new challenge. The redesigned landmark Evelyn Hotel, located in the NoMad section of Manhattan, holds Chef Benno’s three new concepts. “There aren’t many spaces in NYC that would lend themselves to what we’re doing in one location, with the bakery Leonelli Focacceria in the front of the hotel, casual Italian Leonelli Taberna through the lobby, and the fine-dining Benno restaurant in back,” says Chef Benno. “It affords me the opportunity to take everything I’ve done throughout my career and showcase it all in one place.”

Chef Jonathan Benno majored in culinary arts at The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY. He is executive chef of three concepts within the Evelyn Hotel, Leonelli Focacceria, Leonelli Taberna, and Benno located in New York City.