New York-born with Italian roots, Chef Relf was raised near the water on Long Island, N.Y., where he spent his childhood summers fishing, gardening, eating, playing sports, and enjoying the outdoors with his family.
A descendent of a bloodline of fisherman, Chef Relf appreciated the power and responsibility of harvesting his own ingredients. He truly realized the distinguished quality and flavor of using ingredients from his surrounding area, instilled through years of gardening and fishing.
It didn’t take long for Chef Relf to realize he had a passion – and budding talent – for cooking and creating bold flavors. Junior year of high school, he had an epiphany that he absolutely loved eating and wanted to pursue a career in food.
He graduated from The Culinary Institute of America in New York as a Team Leader in Culinary Arts, and went on to study hospitality at Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration. There, he founded and led the Cornell Dinner Club and the Underground Dinner Club, driven to educate people on where their food comes from and to unite food and beverage-enthused students together. At night, he helped teach an introductory cooking class transforming novice cooks into confident home cooks.
Following graduation, Chef Relf served as Kitchen Manager for the Hillstone Restaurant Group in New York City, where he oversaw a 25-person kitchen staff, and tasted and inspected every ingredient. He later secured a highly-coveted position as Sous Chef at Gulf Harbour Country and Yacht Club in Fort Myers, Florida, under “Top Chef’s” Ron Duprat.
As Chef de Cuisine at Montauk Yacht Club, Chef Relf led the restaurant’s successful transition from traditional steakhouse fare to fine-dining. Additionally he created breakfast and dinner menus based on traditional Tuscan cuisine as Sous Chef of Il Chiostro Inc. in Italy’s famed Tuscany region. Chef Relf was afforded the opportunity to cook at The James Beard House twice, with friends Chef Ron Duprat and Chef Jeff Weiss.
Chef Relf realized he was ready to take on the challenge of opening a restaurant, from scratch, as an Executive Chef. He won over Loews Hotels’ owner, Jonathan Tisch, with a concept tasting for West Kitchen & Tavern, scheduled to open in Annapolis, Maryland, and accomplished his goal of being an Executive Chef. He applied his passion for local food to an innovative, seasonally-rotating menu. He partnered with the regions best producers of local products. Under the helm of Chef Relf, West Kitchen & Tavern went on to win numerous awards, including Best Chesapeake-Inspired Cuisine by What’s Up Magazine.
A Lifelong proponent of sustainability and giving back, Chef Relf instilled this culture into the restaurant. West Kitchen was involved in the True Blue Crabmeat Program and the Oyster Recovery Partnership, both supporting the local waterman and health of the Chesapeake Bay. Chef Relf and his team helped create a food drive for The Lighthouse Foundation, cooked for families living with cancer at the Annapolis Wellness house, and spoke at local schools to helped mold the future minds of America. Chef Relf judged the Maryland Prostart High School Culinary Competition in 2013 and 2014.
Since then, Chef Relf was instrumental in opening Precinct Kitchen + Bar at the Loews Boston Hotel, and was the task force chef responsible for opening the Loews Minneapolis Hotel. Chef Relf now resides in Minneapolis, Minnesota, after a successful stint helping Gavin Kaysen open his highly-touted North Loop restaurant, Spoon and Stable.
Now, Chef Relf is focused to bring his experience and breadth of knowledge to families in the Twin Cities and surrounding areas by offering in-home culinary services. You can find him exercising at the gym, playing hockey in a local park, cooking at home, or just enjoying life as it comes.
To make people happy by improving their overall health and wellness through educating, cooking, and eating healthy food while providing genuine hospitality.
My Food Philosophy:
To cook healthy food by combining the highest quality local, in-season ingredients, applying perfect technique, and not complicating the flavors of those ingredients by keeping the dishes simple and delicious.
We should abolish highly-processed foods from our diet and take a natural approach, using natural ingredients to achieve health results. Carlo Petrini once resisted the opening of a McDonald's in Rome, and since has created the Slow Food Movement. I believe that "Slow Food" will be the new "Fast Food," and I will do everything in my power to contribute to that revolution.