Rich Vellante '86

Rich Vellante ’86 was studying in Rome during his junior year at Hamilton when he befriended an Italian chef and discovered his passion for cooking. However, he hesitated to follow this newfound dream, thinking, “The idea of being a chef is not what a college graduate would ever pursue.” 

After a year working in marketing for a Fortune 500 company, however, he traded his business attire for chef’s whites and
enrolled in the French Culinary Institute. From there he worked in kitchens across the globe and owned an Italian restaurant in Massachusetts before beginning his journey with Legal Sea Foods, where he is now executive vice president and executive chef. 


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While he has received countless accolades for his work, including the Massachusetts Restaurant Association’s 2018 Chef of the Year award, Vellante considers his biggest accomplishment to be his more than 20 years of commitment to Legal, where he is leading the company’s transformation into a “lean thinking model.” He is spearheading the application of these efficient management and production principles to the Legal Sea Foods kitchens. 

As for his favorite item on the menu? It changes with the seasons, but his staples include the lobster roll, Dover sole with ­capers and lemon butter sauce, and cioppino, a mix of seafood in a tomato-basil broth.

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