Joe Beninato, Chef of 100 Steps Supper Club + Raw Bar, grew up around food and the kitchen industry lifestyle starting at the age of 8. His Mother was a Pastry Chef, doing time at Metuchen Inn and The Frog and the Peach. While spending time after elementary school at the restaurants, the chefs would always prepare a little dish for him which sparked his curiosity and growing interest in food.
His first job was a bus boy at the age of 15 at the Metuchen Inn, he worked there for 4 years eventually becoming a server along the way. He credits this job as his first real glimpse into the fine dining restaurant industry and while working closely with the Chef Don Reeves he was able to actually fill in for cooks when needed, mostly preparing salads, appetizers, and desserts.
It wasn’t until Joe turned 23 that he decided to dive head first into the kitchen. Chef Bruce Lefebvre of The Frog and the Peach allowed him to come in a couple of times a week and help out the kitchen staff. Seven months later a full-time position opened up and Bruce offered him the job which he accepted immediately. During this period, he graduated from Middlesex County College with an Associates in Culinary Management.
Joe went on to do an apprenticeship in Florence, Italy for 4 months and upon returning home he landed a job three days later at Ursino. Under Chef Peter Turso’s command, he honed his craft and his palate. Peter had an endless amount of knowledge and became a mentor to Joe. Upon the closing of Ursino, Joe worked at a few restaurants in Jersey City before making his way to 100 Steps. When fellow Frog alumni, Jack Tagmouti called him and asked him to be the Chef, it was a feeling that Joe describes as fate. Now, 30 years old, Joe hopes to continue and build upon the legacy of 100 steps. By working closely with the well trained and fully capable staff behind him, he will put everything he has learned onto his plates and continue to surprise the guests every visit.