Mike Isabella is a Washington, D.C.-based chef and restaurateur, owner of Italian-inspired small plates restaurant, Graffiato, Northern Greek concept, Kapnos, and G, an Italian sandwich shop by day with a tasting menu by night. A second location of G is also open in Nationals Park, home of the Washington Nationals. This summer, Chef Isabella plans to open a second location of Graffiato in Richmond, VA and in the fall he will open Kapnos Taverna in Arlington, VA. In early 2015, Chef Isabella plans to open a Mexican cantina next to Kapnos Taverna.
In 2012, Chef Isabella was named Food & Wine magazine's The People's Best New Chef Mid-Atlantic. Mike Isabella's Crazy Good Italian is his first cookbook, also published in 2012. Outside the kitchen, Chef Isabella appeared on season six of Top Chef and he was the runner-up on Top Chef All-Stars. He is also a member of the American Chef Corps, a network of chefs from across the United States who serve as resources to the Department of State.
Before opening Graffiato, Chef Isabella was the executive chef of Jose Andres' Zaytinya. During his three-year tenure Chef Isabella generated accolades and national attention for Washington, D.C.'s Mediterranean powerhouse restaurant. Chef Isabella's formal training began at The Restaurant School in New York, taking classes and cooking his way through some of New York City's finest establishments. After honing his skills in the Big Apple, he travelled down the coast to Philadelphia, first as a sous chef for James Beard award winner Douglas Rodriguez at Alma de Cuba, then a host of other Stephen Starr restaurants. At El Vez, Chef Isabella learned the true craft of Latin cuisine under the direction of Jose Garces, and as Executive Sous Chef of Marcus Samuelsson's Washington Square, Chef Isabella educated himself on the art of opening a fine dining establishment.
While Philadelphia proved to be an incredible learning experience and launching ground, Chef Isabella still needed to find his niche. That niche came when he moved to Atlanta and joined Buckhead Life Group's top-notch Greek restaurant, Kyma. As Chef de Cuisine of the seafood-inspired menu, Chef Isabella learned the slight flavors and techniques of Greek cooking, as well as immersing himself in the traditions of one of the oldest cuisines in the world. While travelling through Greece and parts of the Middle East, Chef Isabella learned the nuances of these cuisines. Talking to locals and sifting through the daily markets gave Chef Isabella a chance to truly understand these foods, and helped to form a base for his culinary imagination.