Executive Chef, Nerano, Beverly Hills
Michele grew up in Locorotondo, a small town in Puglia, located in the south near the heel of Italy’s boot. Puglia, with its beautiful beaches and masserias, is the home of creamy burrata, mozzarella and orecchiette pasta. Michele’s mother was a talented home cook and a supportive influence. She encouraged his help preparing the family meals while his visiting cousin regaled him with stories of traveling the world. Dreaming of adventure, he enrolled in a course taught by a high level Cavalier Chef at thirteen. The road to becoming a professional chef had begun.
By 2002 he held three degrees in the hospitality profession –Advanced Culinary Diploma, Beverage Manager Diploma and Cook as well as Receptionist and Waiter Qualification – from the Istituto Professionale di Stato Castellana Grotte, Italy. He worked at entry level restaurant jobs, working as a prep cook and slowly worked his way up through the ranks until he landed a Pastry Chef position at the acclaimed Hotel Atlantico in Rimini in Emilia-Romagna.
Other jobs in Michelin-starred restaurants followed where he cultivated his technique and learned the nuances of his country’s regional cooking. At Hotel I Due Laghi outside of Rome, Michele was mentored by Chef Gualtiero Marchesi, recognized by many as the father of modern Italian cuisine.
He arrived in Los Angeles in 2005 and found a job at Vincenti in Brentwood, led by the highly respected Chef Nicola Mastronardi and owner Maureen Vincenti. Under the watchful eye of Mastronardi, Vincenti became the springboard for Michele’s American career. It was also where he met and worked with Luca Crestanelli, now chef and partner at the award-winning S.Y. Kitchen in Santa Ynez, part of The Toscana Restaurant Group family. Two years later, Michele was recruited by a prominent private equity executive, to be his personal chef. For two years Michele traveled from Santa Barbara to Florence, to Sardinia and back, cooking for an international list of world leaders, royalty and celebrities.
Having traveled the world, Michele longed to return to sunny California. The weather in Los Angeles reflects that of his home in Puglia, where one can find plenty of sunshine, great food and exceptional produce. And Los Angeles offered opportunity. The Toscana Restaurant Group was looking for an executive chef to lead the kitchen at Nerano, opening in fall of 2016 down the street from the Peninsula Hotel and across from the new Waldorf Astoria Hotel in Beverly Hills.
Michele’s menu showcases perfectly and simply prepared modern southern Italian dishes. Every plate features Southern California’s rich range of local organic produce, seafood and meats.
Michele Lisi lives in Beverly Hills, California. To unwind from the stoves, he spars at the gym practicing martial arts. As a semi-pro cyclist, he also takes extended rides up and down the coast. Meeting a challenge is Michele’s way of life – he’s all in.