By Michelle Aiello


How old are you? 31.
Are you married or single? Married. We don’t have kids, but our four Great Danes keep us busy. 
Tell us about the overall concept at Tony’s. Tony’s is a modern steakhouse with an Italian flair. 
When creating menus, what inspires you? When I’m thinking about what to cook, I am always inspired by the quality of the ingredients that I’m working with. And that quality is greatly enhanced by the fantastic farms we have in the Lexington area. I’m lucky enough to work closely with many of them.
What was the last thing you cooked for yourself at home? I made a sautéed shrimp salad with a poppy seed dressing, baby Cremini mushrooms, feta cheese and dried cranberries. 
What was your favorite food as a child? A peanut butter and jelly sandwich with Fritos corn chips. 
How would you describe working in your kitchen? I like to keep my kitchen as relaxed as possible. I think when cooks are overly stressed or constantly looking over their shoulders, they don’t create their best product. I love teaching people how to cook, and a large part of that is to taste as they go to make sure that our high standards are consistently met. 
What chefs do you admire? I am still a fan of the old school chefs that maintained the theory that small, basic steps must be upheld in order to achieve a great final product. A couple of examples are Jacques Pepin and Andre Soltner. 
Was there a meal or dish that was an inspiration to you as a young chef? Making and tasting my first consommé – there is something about turning an everyday pot of stock into highly flavored liquid gold. 
Last restaurant where you dined? Believe it or not, Tony’s. 
If someone wanted to be a chef, what three things would you tell them? One: Dedication is key. There are long hours and no vacations. Two: Educate yourself. I am constantly reading about old and new foods, wines, and hospitality theories. Three: Enjoy it. You have to love the work, not just the theory of the work. 
What does “hospitality” mean to you? Making sure everyone who walks through our doors feels like they’re at home. 
Where can we find you on your day off? On my farm with my wife and animals.