Culinary Concepts Hospitality Group
Daniel Del Vecchio, vice president of operations for Culinary Concepts Hospitality Group (CCHG), started cooking at 16 years old and never looked back. Eventually, Del Vecchio’s culinary career helped him cross paths with Jean-Georges Vongerichten, Michelin-star chef and an original founder of what would become the original incarnation of the company: Culinary Concepts by Jean-Georges, a New York City-based restaurant management group.
“I started working for Jean-Georges at Vong, one of the first restaurants he opened, which was only about a month old,” recalls Del Vecchio. “I had been cooking classical French for years and wanted to learn more about Asian food, so he hired me and I slowly moved up in the ranks. He asked me to go to London as a chef; I went to further my experience.”
Taking Kitchen Know-how to the Front of the House
Approximately 15 years later, Del Vecchio came back to the states and his career began to take a different turn. “Jean-Georges didn’t have a chef position for me at the time so I stepped out of the kitchen and into operations mode,” he shares. “I started my outside of the kitchen education, traveling the world and opening new restaurant concepts with Jean-Georges.”
With the success of one of Jean-Georges’ restaurant concepts, Spice Market, casual cuisine inspired by the streets of Southeast Asia, Jean-Georges asked Del Vecchio to join him in establishing CCHG officially in 2006. “It was challenging to step out of the kitchen and into a management role, but it was very exciting at the same time,” recounts Del Vecchio.
When Del Vecchio started working for the master restaurateur, Jean-Georges had just two concepts. Now, CCHG is a global company and holds everything from its signature concept Spice Market to J&G Steakhouse, Cook Hall to J&G Grill, and Market, with restaurants around the world.
“We opened Spice Market 10 years ago,” notes Del Vecchio. “It was successful and we were looking to expand so we met with Catterton Partners [Catterton]. We wanted their expert advice on rolling out concepts, one thing led to another and Jean-Georges partnered with the investment firm and Starwood Hotels & Resorts Inc. to launch CCHG.”
Developing Culinary Concepts from Continent to Continent
Today, CCHG remains headquartered in the heart of New York City and was acquired as a wholly owned subsidiary of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Inc. in 2011; however, the management firm has spread its depth of knowledge in the restaurant business far and wide, from Mexico City to Atlanta, London to Bora Bora, Washington, D.C. to Scottsdale, Vancouver to Dallas, Puerto Rico and many more.
“Our reach is truly global,” remarks Del Vecchio. “We have 20 employees in our New York City location, but thousands worldwide. Our goal is to cover as many different locations as possible with our restaurant concepts; Asian, Italian, European, Latin American, American Steakhouses and on.”
“We’re creating great restaurants and new concepts on a global scale,” adds Max Buccini, director of public relations for CCHG. “Ownership groups and asset managers from hotels and resorts come to us when they are looking to develop a restaurant or bar space; we recommend what would work best as far as the space goes along with local demographics.”
In addition to the company’s current concepts, CCHG has several new designs in various stages of development, ready to launch in the next two years. “Our new concepts for 2014 are Brasserie Quartier and Casa Cenatta,” notes Buccini.
Casa Cenatta, CCHG’s newest Italian-style concept, is inspired by the Mediterranean dining experience from the coast of Italy. As CCHG rolls out Casa Cenatta, the restaurants will follow the design influences of the 1950s Art Deco movement. On the other hand, Brasserie Quartier evokes memories of classic European restaurants with a modern interpretation of classic French brasserie fare.
“We are also preparing for new establishments in the Middle East, Latin America and South America,” details Buccini. “Our Market Kitchen concept is by far one of our most popular current designs. Reminiscent of a comfortable home kitchen, Market Kitchen brings the farm-to-table concept to the forefront. We are well-equipped to deliver this style restaurant in Abu Dhabi.”
“We are a small company with a team of very talented food and beverage professionals with a global footprint that is growing quickly,” adds Del Vecchio. “We see a significant amount of opportunity in Latin America and the Middle East, particularly, a project for a restaurant in The St. Regis in Cairo.”
According to Del Vecchio, he attributes the company’s success in part due to the team of professionals. “Our team ensures our systems, training and standards are in place to provide consistency both in food, service and design,” he says proudly.
But no matter how fast CCHG continues to grow, Del Vecchio says it’s all about maintaining the high quality standards that have landed the company in such a prime position. “We’re not going to sacrifice the quality of design, attention to service, thought and care that goes into each and every restaurant,” he ensures.
After only eight years bringing unique flavors and experiences to all corners of the world, Culinary Concepts Hospitality Group is steadily rising to the top of the food chain.