Episode 168. John Varanese – Chef and Restaurateur, Varanese, River House, and Levee Restaurants
Creativity in food, atmosphere, and service fuel John Varanese as BOTH a chef and a restaurant owner.
After an impressive food and restaurant background, John opened Varanese on Frankfort Avenue in 2007. He announced his second restaurant, River House, located on the riverfront eight years later. Later that year, he told another restaurant at the River House location, Levee, which would feature live entertainment and unique cuisine, a completely different experience from River House.
Starting at age 14 in Cleveland, Ohio, John credits Dino De Franco as his mentor and teacher for what it takes to be a good chef and business owner. He learned the business side of the restaurant, discipline, and from-scratch cooking.
His first executive chef position was at Azalia restaurant in Louisville, Ky. Within three years, Varanese began making plans to open his restaurant. He is passionately committed to sourcing local food for his restaurants.
He has won numerous awards and was invited to cook at the prestigious James Beard House in NYC. In addition, he serves on the Kentucky Restaurant Association’s Board of Directors, was named Restaurateur of the Year by KRA, and was honored as one of the country’s top culinary talents in the premier edition of Best Chefs America.
John also stars in and co-produces his television show, Big World of Food.
The show focuses on educating viewers on the importance of local farms to the food on their tables.
John and his wife, Gina, reside in Louisville.