VALHALLA, N.Y. -- Dante Giannini, a 2006 graduate of the Southern Western BOCES Culinary Arts Program, was recently crowned champion of the latest season of “Chopped,” the Food Network’s cooking game show.
Giannini, also an Eastchester High School graduate, claimed the $10,000 first prize last month when he went up against three other chefs from restaurants across the country.
In each episode, contestants are expected to compete in three rounds called “Appetizer,” “Entrée” and “Dessert.” Each chef is given a basket containing three to five mystery ingredients from which they are expected to create a meal, according to a release from SWBOCES.
Giannini, who has an associate’s degree from the Culinary Institute of America, credits much of his success to the hands-on skills he acquired in the BOCES program, located in Valhalla, and to getting him his first real job at the Bronxville Field Club.
The young entrepreneur, who specializes in New American French cuisine, has also worked in a variety of other restaurants and hotels since leaving BOCES.
They include Oceana in New York City, where he served as an Amuse-Bouche chef, creating single, bite-sized hors d’oeuvres; Equus at the Castle Hotel & Spa in Tarrytown, where he worked as a cook; and at the exclusive 1770 House in the Hamptons, where he was hired initially as a sous chef and later became the restaurant’s executive chef.
“If I was able to stay another two years in the BOCES program, I feel like I would have gotten the same education that I got at CIA,” he said.
Giannini currently serves as Jimmy Buffett’s estate chef, preparing meals for the musician’s family and friends at his many homes located in Manhattan, the Hamptons, South Carolina and the Caribbean.
The two-year BOCES Culinary Arts Program provides instruction and hands-on experience in the fundamental concepts and techniques of cooking. Training is provided in butchering, baking, nutrition, menu planning and catering, the release said.