By the age of thirteen, Rich Torrisi was cooking at restaurants near his childhood home in the Hudson Valley. He sought out opportunities in the best kitchens he could find, paving the way for an education at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. During these formative years, Rich worked under Marcus Samuelsson and Nils Noren at the modern Scandinavian restaurant Aquavit. He also gained the mentorship of Andrew Carmellini at Café Boulud, absorbing that chef’s command of French, Italian, and American culinary traditions over the course of four years.
With the help of Daniel Boulud, Rich was able to train at a host of legendary eateries in France, including Guy Savoy and Maison Troisgros. He eventually returned to New York to play a crucial role at Carmellini’s celebrated A Voce. But soon Torrisi found himself at a crossroads. He and Mario Carbone, an old friend from culinary school, decided to take a risk and open the Italian deli they had always dreamed of building together.
At Torrisi Italian Specialties on Mulberry Street—where the ambitious tasting menu served in the evenings became one of the city’s premiere culinary attractions—the two young chefs bonded with the rising entrepreneur Jeff Zalaznick. Together, they formed Major Food Group, whose renowned collection of businesses now spreads across the globe. As the company has grown, Rich has honed in on research and development, conceptualizing menus and dishes for all MFG restaurants, maintaining culinary standards across the organization, and training an expanding roster of chefs.