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 Michael Burbella

  a culture vulture

 I am a graduate of The Culinary Institute of

America and have worked in  NY Times 3-star Restaurants Gramercy Tavern and Gotham Bar & Grill under chefs Alfred Portale and  Top Chef host Tom Colicchio. I trained in France at restaurants George Blanc and Regis Marcon, 3 Michelin-star establishments.  I continued to train in Florence, Italy, at Cibreo Restaurant and taught classes at famed Italian cookbook author Giuliano Bugialli's school in the Tuscan countryside. I lived and worked outside of Seville, Spain, for Chef Ferran Adria of El Bulli restaurant at Hacienda Benenazuza and St. Moritz, Switzerland, at the 2 Michelin star restaurant Talvo.

After five years of training and extensive traveling in Europe, I returned to the United States. I became the Executive Chef at the Metropolitan Opera House Grand Tier Restaurant at Lincoln Center. Past private chef experience includes a summer stint for architect /artist Peter Marino at his Southhampton home and NBA  player Kristops Porzingas.   Every major publication has reviewed me, including the NY Times, Time Out Magazine, NY Magazine, Inside Jersey, and NY Observer.

    After working as an executive chef for ten years, I decided to complete my education. I received my B.A. in Art from Montclair State University. I also pursued my interests in wine, olive oil, and Neapolitan pizza making during this time. I received a certificate level 3 in wine studies from WSET at the International Wine Center in NYC. I attended the UC Davis, ONAOO, and Savantes courses for olive oil sensory analysis certification. After graduating from Montclair University, I received my first MA in Food Studies/Nutrition from New York University. In 2023, I graduated with an MPH in Nutrition from NYU School of Global Public Health.

 As Director of Nutrition and Food Programs for a non-profit organization, I am Responsible for planning, overseeing, developing, and maintaining existing nutrition education and food procurement programs. Programs include fresh food boxes, congregated outsourced meal services, food access initiatives, cooking education interventions, and community nutrition education for residents. The department also manages a Food Justice Program and supervises food budgets, monitoring and controlling all food-related expenditures for 16 supportive housing sites.

 As a panel Tasting Judge for the NY International Olive Oil Competition, it is the most prestigious olive oil quality contest. Its annual list of award winners is the authoritative guide to the world’s best olive oils. I examine the sensory characteristics of each sample in blind tastings and award a gold or silver label or reject the oil due to sensory defects.

 I am also an adjunct professor at Montclair State University, teaching two Food Studies/Nutrition Department classes.

I traveled abroad and examined food systems in Shanghai, Xian, Hong Kong, Dehli, and Cambodia. Everyone should have access to healthy food choices and quality health care regardless of socioeconomic background or income level. 


After having cooked professionally for nearly 25 years, I  became more interested in food on a global level. With an expanding world population, how will we be able to grow and produce food to feed everyone shortly? Will we be able to do this in a way that is not detrimental to humans, the environment, and the animals involved?  I believe people need to be informed about the choices they are unwillingly making when purchasing what they will consume. Everyone should have access to healthy food choices regardless of socioeconomic background or income level. Promoting a balanced diet is important since undernutrition and overnutrition are widespread issues affecting society nationally and globally.  Food labeling and advertising with misleading health claims can confuse the naive consumer. The public needs to be more aware of the consequences of ingesting the additives in their foods. Much work is needed in this area, but raising public awareness regarding the virtues of making informed, healthy food selections will play a key role in curtailing food-related health issues. We must return to wholesome, healthy, good food as a nation. I hope you agree with me.

NY International Olive Oil Judging Team:

Link to my Medium Page for  stories on food, culture, wine & travel

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