Joe Farina’s life was built on a foundation of American and Italian cuisine. “When I was a kid,” he said, “my dad primarily ran the grill, and my mom specialized in the Italian dishes. So I grew up learning how to cook both.” That early education charted a course that would take him to the upper echelons of Chicago’s culinary scene. He spent a few short years leaning the fundamentals of his craft as a line cook at the Hotel Nikko (Now the Westin River North) and Sous Chef at the Chicago Yacht Club. “You really lean on the job,” he said, “and I learned a lot at those places.”
Then, at age 27, Farina seized the opportunity that would elevate his career and change his life. He became the head Chef at the world famous Carmine’s, part of Chicago’s iconic Rosebud Restaurant Group. At Carmine’s, Chef Farina mastered the traditional Italian dishes that made it legend, and created new dishes that have since become Rosebud classics. And, within three years, he became the Executive Corporate Chef, overseeing the menus of all the Rosebud Restaurants including the original incarnation of the wildly popular Centro.
“With Rosebud, all of its restaurants, you’re part of a family,” Farina said. “I’ve known many of the people for most of my life or most of theirs. After all these years, it’s still just a great place to work, and a great family of people to work with.” Now, decades into his tenure as the Executive Chef for one of the world’s most renowned restaurant names, Chef Farina is bringing Centro Ristorante back to the center of Chicago’s dining scene. Working alongside Rosebud founder Alex Dana, he’s sharpening his knives to deliver the original dishes that made the Centro famous, and preparing new menu items that are sure to be tomorrow’s classics.
“It really comes down to food,” Chef Farina said. “If you don’t like the food you’re cooking, you’ll never be good at it, and I love this food. I know this food. Alex and I try to make the food perfect, and then make it better every day. That philosophy lies at the heart of what we do, and what Centro and Rosebud Restaurants are all about.”