OUR HEAVENLY MISSION
To bring a slice of Heaven to the neighborhood.
CHEF LUCIANO PELLEGRINI
James Beard Award-winning chef Luciano Pellegrini was born in Bergamo, Italy, and as most Italian chefs, began his culinary experience in his mother’s kitchen. At age 13, he enrolled at San Pellegrino, one of Italy’s most prestigious hotel schools. He spent his teenage years attending school and gaining experience at various restaurants throughout Italy. After graduation, Pellegrini was exposed to dining at its finest when working at Locanda dell’Angelo in Bergamo, a then Michelin starred restaurant.
At the age of 18, after completing his required one-year of military service as a parachutist, Pellegrini started his culinary career and gained valuable experience and working inside the kitchen's of some of Italy's top restaurants. In 1985, Pellegrini took what would be his career-changing step by moving to the United States to work with restaurateur Piero Selvaggio, who had achieved a solid reputation for bringing genuine Italian cuisine to California.
By 1987, Pellegrini was quickly developing both his cooking and kitchen leadership skills and became executive chef at Selvaggio’s restaurant, Primi. In 1991, Pellegrini opened Posto restaurant in the San Fernando Valley. Pellegrini was immediately recognized for his talents and was critically acclaimed by both the Los Angeles Daily News and the Los Angeles Times whose renowned restaurant critic; S. Irene Virbila, commented that Pellegrini executed “the kind of rustic main courses you might find in the Italian countryside.”
Looking to take his culinary skills to the next level, Pellegrini returned to Italy, and while there learned the art of grilling on the “fogolar,” a traditional, flavorful way of cooking on a wood-burning open hearth. He also spent a great deal of time with Bruno Libralon, a renowned Italian Chef and head of the Italian Chef Association, who is often referred to as the “King of Fish.” Pellegrini also spent time with a local sausage expert in order to perfect the art of sausage-making, something very important in Italian cooking. During different stages in his travels, Pellegrini has worked with some of the most creative and respected Italian chefs in the world including Gianfranco Vissani, Fulvio Pierangelini, Paola DiMauro and Nadia Santini.
Pellegrini returned to California to showcase his honed craft and it paid off as the James Beard Foundation listed him among the Top 10 chefs in Los Angeles. He maintained this position for six consecutive years.
In May of 1999, Pellegrini seized yet another opportunity and moved to Las Vegas to become executive chef and partner of Valentino Las Vegas (The Venetian Resort-Hotel-Casino), the sister restaurant to Selvaggio's iconic Santa Monica location. Over the past decade, Pellegrini's dedication and passion in the kitchen has solidified Valentino as one of the leading Italian restaurants in the southwest. Valentino Las Vegas has received numerous awards including the esteemed DiRoNA (Distinguished Restaurants of North America) Award of Excellence, six Las Vegas Life Epicurean Awards for Best Italian Restaurant in Las Vegas and a 2007 Epicurean Award for the city's best wine list. Valentino Las Vegas has also received the Grand Award from Wine Spectator, annually, since 2002.
In 2004, Pellegrini achieved one of the culinary world's highest honors by receiving the prestigious award for Best Chef in the Southwest by the James Beard Foundation. Pellegrini has been a guest chef for some of Italy’s leading culinary events, including the Bacco d’Oro di Brunello wine dinner in Montalcino, Gambero Rosso magazine’s dinner gala in Rome and the Guida L’Espresso celebration dinner in Palermo. He played a critical role as one of the host chefs for the 2008 James Beard Foundation's Taste America Las Vegas – the first multi-day event ever executed in Las Vegas by the James Beard Foundation.
When Valentino in Las Vegas closed its doors on November 2013, Luciano took a break from the restaurant scene after a career spanning 36 years, and embarked on a new career, opening Dolcevita Gelato, a manufacturing company producing artisanal gelato for wholesale distribution, and LP Consulting he consults regularly for restaurants in Las Vegas, California and Minnesota.
IN 2014 Luciano joined Four Eagles Group as Vice President of Food & Beverage and of Research & Development, and helped develop their many concepts including: IllyCaffè, Casanova restaurant, Casanova Tapas Bar, Cocolini, Cafè Pan
He still is invited to cook for various events nationwide and shares his knowledge any chance he gets.
CHEF DAVID RYAN BRISTER
Cooking has always been a family affair for Luciano’s cousin and business partner, Chef David Ryan Brister. Throughout his childhood, David grilled with dad, baked with mom, and spent summers in Los Angeles in the kitchen of the restaurant his cousin Luciano ran. Food had become their family’s bond. His love of the industry and the culinary arts grew deeper, as he immersed further into the inner workings of the restaurant kitchen, where the staff had taken him under their wing. It became undeniable that David was destined to follow this passion and aspire towards a culinary career.
In 2010 after graduating in the top 5% of his class from the Le Cordon Bleu in Las Vegas, NV and in his home state of Texas, he worked his way up from line cook to chef de partie, within a month, at the Lakeway Resort and Spa in Texas. Eighteen months later, he took the next step in his career by accepting his first Sous Chef position at Lake Austin Spa Resort. This was a unique opportunity for him to showcase his skills while cooking for a long list of celebrities who frequented the restaurant, including Stuart Weitzman, Elizabeth Jagger, and Chef Art Smith. As David’s notoriety in the industry grew, the team at Sway, Austin’s hottest restaurant at the time, snatched him up to be their first Executive Sous Chef. During his tenue, Sway was nominated for a James Beard Award and won best Thai restaurant in Austin for three consecutive years.
After a move from Austin to Dallas in 2015, David became the Executive Sous Chef for The Ranch at Las Colinas and Ida Claire, under the umbrella of Front Burner Restaurant Group. From there he accepted his first Executive Chef position at Neighborhood Services, working under Chef Jeff Bekavac & Chef Nick Badovinus and cook for Dallas Cowboy football players and local celebrities. He further expanded his resume and skills by working for Hudson House, a New York themed seafood restaurant, before moving to Las Vegas.
David has returned to his roots by working alongside his cousin Luciano, as the Pastry Chef and Production manager at Dolce Vita Gelato and a Chef partner at Heavenly Pies in Las Vegas.
Chef Brister has always been dedicated to giving back to the communities that he’s been a part of by volunteering his time and expertise to local events, including the Bon Appetit Taste of Las Vegas Festival, Food & Wine Festival in Las Vegas and Austin, Houston Food Bank 12th annual Chefs Dinner, the Austin Signature Chefs Auction for the March of Dime, and so many more. He and Luciano are looking forward to integrating even deeper into the Las Vegas community with this new venture!