Food and Wine People’s Best New Chef nominee in 2011
Executive Chef/Partner: L’Artusi, dell’anima, Anfora
Culinary Advisor, Epicurean Management
Born in Vermont and raised in both California and Texas, Gabriel Thompson grew up around good food and regional specialty dishes. As a child, he would spend hours in his grandfather’s Texas garden, picking vegetables and preparing dinner for his family.
His first kitchen job was as a 20-year-old line cook at Granite Cafe in Austin, Texas, where he was taken under the wing of chef Chris Lanier, who taught him the fundamentals of being a cook, including proper technique, a deeper understanding of the ingredients he prepared, and presentation. Above all else, Lanier helped instill a chef’s work ethic in Thompson, and it was while he was at Granite that he would decide to turn this job into his career.
Two years later, Thompson enrolled in Le Chef Culinary School in Austin while still working at Granite. After graduation, he traveled through Europe to experience different cultures, and found that in Italy, unlike other countries that he had visited, he enjoyed every meal – whether it came from a cart on the street or a fine-dining establishment. He attributed this to the Italian’s use of fresh and local ingredients and simplicity.
A few months later, Thompson returned to work in restaurants across the country to learn more about the seasonal and local movement, from Clarklewis in Portland, Oregon to The Little Nell in Aspen, Colorado, eventually returning to Austin. In Austin, he was soon reunited with Chris Lanier and worked as a sous chef at the acclaimed Emilia’s restaurant, where he rededicated himself to his craft and continued to challenge himself by try new techniques and working with new ingredients.
Three years later Thompson moved to New York to accept the ultimate personal challenge – a position at Eric Ripert’s NY Times 4-Star seafood temple, Le Bernardin, where he learned all he could about fine dining in New York City. From there he went to cook at Del Posto, where he explored Italian cuisine with the same sort of devotion he showed throughout his years in kitchens around the world.
When West Village darling dell’anima opened in October 2007, Thompson took the reigns as executive chef for the first time. Here, on a much more intimate scale, he took a lifetime of lessons in the kitchen – from selecting vegetables in his grandfather’s garden to making bucatini with Mario – and re-imagined them at this contemporary neighborhood Italian restaurant and wine bar. Thompson’s food has been featured in publications like Food & Wine, Conde Nast Traveler, Daily Candy, New York Magazine, Bon Appetite, and the New York Times. Recently, Thompson was a Food and Wine People’s Best New Chef nominee in 2011 and appeared on the Martha Stewart Show.