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Don Pintabona - Chef/Restaurant Owner
Posted: 08/28/2006

Don Pintabona

What do you do:
Chef, Restaurant owner

Where do you work:
Dani, New York City, New York

When did you realize you wanted to be a chef:
When I was in college I was a Business major, started cooking on the side to pay for school. My interest in cooking was a hell of a lot greater than my interest in business and rather than sort of pigeonhole myself into a Wall Street job cooking offered a more portable profession. Since I loved to travel it was a way to just throw your knives in a bag and go jump on a plane. My two passions are cooking and travel and they seem to go together pretty well.

Why be a chef:
I love the energy. It’s a very social atmosphere. I get to see everybody and friends can come to visit. I love the interaction. I love the art of it, being able to create and being able to hopefully see people leave with a smile on their face and with compliments.   

How would you advise others:
I would work in the field first before plunking down twenty or thirty thousand dollars. I’ve seen too many people go through schooling, pay ridiculous amounts of money for it and realize a year or two later that it’s a very tough business and after two years get out of it… When you start out in a career, money cannot be a priority. You have to be willing to work long hours for little money if you are learning. If you are working for someone really good treat it like an apprenticeship, treat it like a learning experience, and treat it like you would be paying for school. It’s the extra bonus that they are actually paying you.