Tom Valenti

Last updated
Tom Valenti
Tom Valenti 01.jpg
Tom Valenti
Born (1959-03-23) March 23, 1959 (age 61)
Culinary career
Cooking styleFrench, Italian

Tom Valenti is the owner and Executive Chef of Oxbow Tavern on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. He is the former Executive Chef of Le Cirque Restaurant in Midtown Manhattan, in New York City. [1] Previously, he was Executive Chef and co-owner of Ouest Restaurant on the Upper West Side of Manhattan which shuttered in 2015. The recipient of many awards for his comfortable cooking style, Valenti is best known for his salmon gravlax and slow-cooked meats, particularly braised lamb shanks. On October 28, 2008, he opened a new restaurant, named The West Branch, just a few blocks south of his flagship location. Additionally, Valenti released his third cookbook, You Don't Have to be Diabetic to Love This Cookbook, in June 2009, dedicated to recipes for diabetic diets. Valenti was the driving force behind the creation of the Windows of Hope Family Relief Fund, established to benefit the surviving family members of foodservice-related victims of the September 11, 2001 attacks. [2]


Professional life

Introduction to haute cuisine

After graduating from high school, Valenti took a job working pastry at a local Ithaca French restaurant, l'Auberge du Cochon Rouge. Exposure to the traditional Escoffier style of French cooking led him to relocate to Rye, New York where he accepted a job as a private chef to a wealthy family. He was free to design the menu as he pleased with the stipulation that the same meal not be repeated for at least 200 days. [3] This job lasted for 2 years until the couple employing him divorced.

Valenti next landed a position at the Greenwich, Connecticut restaurant being opened by famous French chef Guy Savoy. Savoy took note of Valenti's culinary abilities and sent him over to his signature restaurant in Paris, France to further his skills over the next 15 months. [3]

Gotham Bar & Grill

Upon completion of his internship at Savoy's Paris restaurant, Valenti departed France via Charles de Gaulle Airport where a friend introduced him to Alfred Portale who was returning from his own culinary study period. Shortly after returning to the USA, Portale took control of his now famous restaurant, Gotham Bar & Grill, and hired Valenti as his first sous-chef. It was here that Valenti put to use the precision culinary skills he had developed during his time in France. Valenti would remain at Gotham for 2 years. [4]

Executive Chef

During his time at Gotham, Valenti became friends with the front-of-house manager, Alison Becker. Soon they would collaborate to open Alison on Dominick, Valenti's breakout opportunity as Executive Chef. [5] In 1989, Esquire magazine called their venture "Best New Restaurant" in New York City. In 1990, Food & Wine magazine named Valenti one of the "Ten Best New Chefs" in the country. [4]

In 1994, after 5 years and much critical acclaim, Valenti and Becker parted ways and he assumed the Executive Chef position at Cascabel where he worked for 2 years before taking off some time from the rigors of kitchen work. In 1998, Valenti assumed the lead position at Ken Aretsky's Upper East Side bistro Butterfield 81. Critical acclaim was almost immediate. New York Times food critic Ruth Reichl declared Valenti a "clairvoyant in the kitchen", describing his "meat-oriented dishes" as "offering exactly what I wanted to eat." [6] New York magazine's Gail Greene waxed poetic about the "mythic lamb shanks." [7] Valenti would run the kitchen for 2 years before departing to work on his own venture.

Ouest Restaurant Ouest Restaurant.jpg
Ouest Restaurant
Windows of Hope Chefs Windows of Hope Chefs.png
Windows of Hope Chefs


In the spring of 2001, Valenti opened his signature restaurant Ouest on the corner of Broadway and 84th street in Manhattan's Upper West Side. The French style menu was reminiscent of his days at Butterfield 81, focused on lesser cuts of meat with bold flavors. A converted dry cleaner store, the "L-shaped" interior layout was remodeled by designer Peter Neimetz, focusing on cozy leather booths and soft lighting with balcony alcoves. The New York Times awarded Ouest 2 stars, saying that the "main courses drift toward the comfort zone." [8] New York magazine, in a 3-star review, declares that "Valenti has honed the menu to the point where almost every dish resonates with love-it-in-an-instant flavors." [9] Ouest is frequently credited with bringing haute cuisine to the Upper West Side. [4] Ouest closed it doors on June 13, 2015. [10]

Oxbow Tavern

In March 2018, Valenti opened "Oxbow Tavern" on Columbus Ave at 71st St in Manhattan's Upper West Side neighborhood. [11]

Windows of Hope

Following the September 11, 2001 attacks, Valenti assembled his good friends Waldy Malouf of Beacon, Michael Lomonaco of Windows on the World and attorney-restaurant financier David Emil, establishing the Windows of Hope Family Relief Fund dedicated to benefit the surviving family members of victims from the foodservice industry. A "Dine Out" date of October 11, 2001 was established to generate fund contributions. Originally intended as a citywide restaurant response to a need within their community, news of the event soon spread to other cities and eventually over 5,000 restaurants around the world participated in contributing proceeds from that evening to the fund. Corporate sponsors also contributed to Windows of Hope and, in total, over $23 million were raised to help the families in need. [12]

In 2005, Valenti continued his charitable efforts in helping to lead the Restaurants for Relief effort to benefit victims of Hurricane Katrina.

The West Branch The West Branch Restaurant.jpg
The West Branch
Tom Valenti and cookbook co-author Andrew Friedman at the Opening of The West Branch restaurant Tom Valenti Andrew Friedman.jpg
Tom Valenti and cookbook co-author Andrew Friedman at the Opening of The West Branch restaurant
Tom & Sirio Maccioni Valenti Sirio.jpg
Tom & Sirio Maccioni
Tom Valenti and Eric Ripert ValentiRippert.jpg
Tom Valenti and Eric Ripert

Other ventures

In 2003 Valenti opened 'Cesca at Broadway & 75th Street. The menu, a tribute to the cooking style he learned in his grandmother's kitchen, was decidedly Italian in nature and quickly gained notoriety and acclaim. [13] Valenti ran the kitchen at 'Cesca for 3 years until an egregious decision by his business partner led Valenti to sever their relations, trading his interest in 'Cesca for full control of Ouest.

Valenti holds a small interest in the New York location of Dinosaur Bar-B-Que, a traditional barbecue restaurant situated under the Riverside Drive bridge on 125th St.

On October 28, 2008, Valenti opened his new restaurant The West Branch at Broadway and W. 77th St. in New York City. The restaurant was attached to the On The Ave Hotel. This restaurant shuttered in August 2010.

Signature dishes



Valenti has authored several cookbooks, including:


Personal life

Early life in Ithaca

Valenti was born March 27, 1959 in Ithaca, New York to Louis and Aurora Valenti. His father left at an early age and Valenti was raised by his mother and Italian immigrant maternal grandparents. It was after school in his grandmother Nonni's kitchen that Valenti first learned the craft of cooking traditional Italian dishes. [22]

Fly-fishing in the Catskills

Valenti is described as a chef who "cooks to live", preferring to spend his time fishing the Beaverkill River in Upstate New York where he owns a small seasonal fishing cabin. [23] He exclusively practices catch and release angling. [24]


Valenti lives in Northern New Jersey.




Related Research Articles

Chez Panisse restaurant in Berkeley, United States

Chez Panisse is a Berkeley, California, restaurant, known as one of the inspirations for the style of cooking known as California cuisine. Restaurateur, author and food activist Alice Waters opened Chez Panisse in 1971 with film producer Paul Aratow, then professor of comparative literature at the University of California, Berkeley. The restaurant emphasises ingredients rather than technique and has developed a supply network of direct relationships with local farmers, ranchers and dairies.

Thomas Keller American chef, restaurateur, and cookbook writer

Thomas Keller is an American chef, restaurateur, and cookbook writer. He and his landmark Napa Valley restaurant, The French Laundry in Yountville, California, have won multiple awards from the James Beard Foundation, notably the Best California Chef in 1996, and the Best Chef in America in 1997. The restaurant is a perennial winner in the annual Restaurant Magazine list of the Top 50 Restaurants of the World.

Craig Claiborne American restaurant critic, food journalist and book author

Craig Claiborne was an American restaurant critic, food journalist and book author. A long-time food editor and restaurant critic for The New York Times, he was also the author of numerous cookbooks and an autobiography. Over the course of his career, he made many contributions to gastronomy and food writing in the United States.

Heston Blumenthal English chef

Heston Marc Blumenthal is a British celebrity chef. He is the proprietor of The Fat Duck in Bray, Berkshire, one of five restaurants in Great Britain to have three Michelin stars; it was voted No. 1 in The World's 50 Best Restaurants in 2005.

Daniel Boulud French chef

Daniel Boulud is a French chef and restaurateur with restaurants in New York City, Boston, Washington, D.C., Palm Beach, Miami, Toronto, Montréal, London, and Singapore. He is best known for the eponymously named restaurant Daniel, in New York City, which has two Michelin stars.

Benjamin O'Donoghue is an Australian chef living in Brisbane.

Tom Douglas restauranteur, chef, author, talk show host

Tom Douglas is an American executive chef, restaurateur, author, and radio talk show host. He is known for winning the 1994 James Beard Award for Best Northwest Chef. In 2012 he also won the James Beard Award as Best Restaurateur. He is the author of Tom Douglas' Seattle Kitchen, which was named the Best American Cookbook by the James Beard Foundation and KitchenAid, in 2001. In 2005, he appeared on an episode of the Food Network's Iron Chef America, in which he defeated Chef Masaharu Morimoto.

James Beard Foundation Award Annual awards presented for excellence in cuisine, culinary writing, and culinary education in the US

The James Beard Foundation Awards are annual awards presented by the James Beard Foundation to recognize culinary professionals in the United States. The awards recognize chefs, restaurateurs, authors and journalists each year, scheduled around James Beard's May 5 birthday. The media awards are presented at a dinner in New York City; the chef and restaurant awards were also presented in New York until 2015, when the Foundation's annual gala moved to Chicago. Chicago will continue to host the Awards up to 2027.

Aarón Sanchez American Mexican chef and television personality

Aarón Sánchez is an American celebrity chef, restaurateur, television personality, cookbook author and philanthropist of Mexican descent. He is the executive chef and part-owner of the Mexican restaurant Johnny Sánchez in New Orleans.

Friedman Paul Erhardt was a German American pioneering early television chef. He was known as "Chef Tell" to his 40 million fans. He is widely regarded as one of the first chefs to enjoy widespread popularity on American television. Former Philadelphia Inquirer food writer, Elaine Tait, wrote, "Chef Tell is America's pioneer TV showman chef whose food always tastes good." Erhardt's thick German accent reportedly made him the inspiration for the Swedish Chef, a well known Muppet character on The Muppet Show, although Brian Henson denies this.

Richard Blais American chef

Richard Blais is an American chef, television personality, restaurateur and author. He appeared on the reality show cooking show Top Chef, and is known for his take on classic American cuisine. Blais was the runner-up for the fourth season of Top Chef and returned several seasons later to win Top Chef: All-Stars.

Michael Lomonaco is an American chef, restaurateur, and television personality. He is best known as the chef/director for Windows on the World, the restaurant located atop the North Tower of the World Trade Center. The restaurant was destroyed in the September 11th attacks, and all of the staff members who were working in the restaurant at the time of the attack died. Lomonaco survived because he was in the tower's lobby during the attacks and was then evacuated from the building. He has rebounded with the opening of Porter House New York, which was named by Esquire magazine one of America's Best New Restaurants in October 2006.

Scott Conant is an American celebrity chef, restaurateur and cookbook author.

Jehangir Mehta is the executive chef and owner of New York City restaurants Graffiti, Me and You and Graffiti Earth. He is also the author of the 2008 HarperCollins cookbook "Mantra: The Rules of Indulgence," offers a cooking class at his restaurant for children 4-14 called "Candy Camp" designed to build interest in more diverse foods, hosts exclusive in-home dinner parties and runs an event planning company.

Amanda Freitag is a New York chef and frequent guest on Food Network television programs. Originally from Cedar Grove, NJ, she is also a judge on the TV cooking competition Chopped and co-host, with Ty Pennington, of American Diner Revival.

Colette Rossant is a French-American cookbook author, journalist, translator, and restaurateur, who is a member of the Pallache family.

Momofuku (restaurants) Culinary brand

Momofuku is a culinary brand established by chef David Chang in 2004 with the opening of Momofuku Noodle Bar. It includes restaurants in New York City, Sydney, Toronto, Washington, DC, Las Vegas, and Los Angeles, a bakery established by pastry chef Christina Tosi, a bar (Nikai), and a quarterly magazine. The restaurants are notable for their innovative take on cuisine, while supporting local, sustainable and responsible farmers and food purveyors.

Tanya Holland American chef

Tanya Holland is an American professional chef, cookbook author, and owner of Brown Sugar Kitchen. Her first book, New Soul Cooking, was published by Stuart, Tabori & Chang in 2003. A second book, Brown Sugar Kitchen: New Style Down-Home Recipes from Sweet West Oakland with a foreword by Michael Chabon, was released in 2014 by Chronicle Books. Holland is a regular guest chef on NBC's Today Show and CBS's The Talk. She hosted the Food Network TV show "Melting Pot Soul Kitchen" from 2000-2003.

Michael Anthony is an American chef.

Tommy Banks (chef) British chef (born 1989)

Tommy Banks is a British Michelin Star head chef. He owns Michelin-starred The Black Swan at Oldstead, Roots in York, and the premium food box business Made In Oldstead.


  2. Treasure Coast Wine Festival - Vero Beach, Florida Archived 2008-01-13 at the Wayback Machine
  3. 1 2 New York Metro: Ouest Side Story
  4. 1 2 3 Great Chefs Of New York - Chef Thomas Valenti Archived 2008-04-14 at the Wayback Machine
  5. Crave NEW YORK... the taste of the city
  7. Next Up at the Plate
  8. "RESTAURANTS; Quickly at Home on the Upper West Side" New York Times
  9. Ouest - Upper West Side - New York Magazine Restaurant Guide
  12. Windows Of Hope - Homepage
  13. reviews » the strong buzz, by andrea strong [ permanent dead link ]
  14. Search Results -
  15. CBS News - Search Results
  16. Boy Meets Grill - Braising - AOL Television
  17. Best New Chefs - 1990 - Tom Valenti | Food & Wine
  18. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2008-02-16. Retrieved 2008-01-26.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  19. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2008-02-16. Retrieved 2008-01-26.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  20. 2002 Chefs Awards
  21. Where to Eat Now 2004
  22. AT LUNCH WITH: Tom Valenti; For Grandma, With Amore - New York Times
  23. Tom Valenti - North of Ouest by Matt DeLucia
  24. restaurantgirl