Born in Lago, in the Italian region of Calabria, Pino Posteraro didn’t always plan to be a chef. A chance encounter as a 12-year-old with an Italian-speaking palm reader during a visit to Toronto to see his older brother Celestino would ultimately change Pino’s career path from heart surgeon to chef. Prior to hearing that he had been a talented chef of French descent in a past life, Pino’s interest in cooking had been mostly peripheral, helping his mother, Paolo, in the kitchen out of familial obligation. Paolo was a talented cook, the only daughter of a noble family that was able to afford for her to train and work one-on-one with professional chefs.
However, the decision for Pino to follow in his mother’s footsteps and become a chef in his own right was not one he made easily or immediately. At the time, he was enrolled full-time in medical school, though his part-time jobs working in small hotels suggested that his talents might lie elsewhere. When Pino told his mother that he wanted to quit medical school, she sent him for a psychiatric assessment. Eventually, though, despite her disappointment, she came to accept her son’s decision.
Pino’s chef’s training began appropriately in Toronto, where he moved to help out in Celestino’s newly opened restaurant. He began by washing dishes but ended up taking cooking classes (and eventually teaching) at George Brown College, and doing several “stages” with local Michelin-starred chefs. After six years of proving himself in the kitchen in Canada, Pino was encouraged by his brother to set his sights abroad and, in 1990, returned to Italy to work first in Turin and then in Pisa.
In October 1992, Pino was given his big break when he was appointed chef of the Ristorante Bologna at the Marina Mandarin Hotel in Singapore. A year after the newly married Pino arrived in Singapore, the hotel’s restaurant became the first ever to receive a five-star review from the country’s top food critic. Two years later, with considerably more cooking experience, Pino returned to Toronto to take the helm at Borgo Antico. Despite rave reviews of his food from critics, Pino’s desire to focus more on his growing family precipitated a return to Calabria. While living in Italy, though, Pino crossed paths with Vancouver chef Umberto Menghi, who offered him first a position at his cooking school in Tuscany and then one at his Vancouver restaurant, Il Giardino di Umberto. The Posteraros moved to Vancouver in 1996 and it was while working at Il Giardino that Pino met the investors who would help him to open Cioppino’s three years later.
In September 1999, Cioppino’s Mediterranean Grill served its first customers. Cioppino’s has since become one of Vancouver’s most sought-out restaurants, known internationally for its award-winning wine list and creative take on traditional Mediterranean dishes; in 2000, thanks to this popularity, a companion eatery, Cioppino’s Enoteca, was opened.
Pino Posteraro continues to live in Vancouver with his wife, Raisa, and their four children. He is executive chef and owner of Cioppino’s Mediterranean Grill and its companion eatery, Cioppino’s Enoteca, both of which are located in Vancouver’s Yaletown neighbourhood.