07/08/2013 04:36 EDT | Updated 08/11/2013 05:12 EDT

Better Living: Just Add Wine

Throughout my years as a chef I have met a lot of people, some that were influential and others that I try and erase from my memory. However, all of them served a valuable purpose in making me understand the importance of personal relationships with the people you work with.

As a chef's life can be stressful within the confines of the kitchen, tack on the pressures of other daily operations needed to run a restaurant, and you're teetering the fine line between stress and insanity. Luckily, I learned rather quickly what is needed to never face that road of derangement again -- a strong and trustworthy staff.

When people talk about Campagnolo (positively or negatively), my name is always at the forefront; but no matter what, I know the credit is not all mine. My vision and passion led me to where I am today, but without my trustworthy staff, I wouldn't even have time to write this blog. The secrets to keeping my staff happy are: treating them like family, building personal relationships, complimenting them on their hard work, and above all staying honest with one another no matter what. Whether it's after-work drinks or closed door discussions, I rest well at night knowing that the people that I work with are just as valuable to the restaurant's success as any other major ingredient is.

One aspect of my job that I have learned to cherish over the past few years is the beauty of wine. Growing up, wine was always around my family (but whether it was good wine is a different story). Nevertheless it was something that I never fully appreciated and understood until recently. After numerous trips to wineries and Italy and a plethora of tastings, my palette has evolved much like Campagnolo's wine list has. From approachable Chianti to delicate Barbarescos, my appreciation for wine has become another relationship that I know perpetually needs cultivation and practice. My staff and I now look forward to tasting and discussing new wines. They say that 'you've never fully watched a movie until you've discussed it,' and the same could be said about a bottle of wine; it's not fully understood until you've discussed it with those you've shared it with. I never thought that I would have the love for wine that I do today, but, my when I first visited Tuscany years back, it had the same effect on me as when I first knelt dough with my nonna as a child -- it just felt right.

Like the importance of having the best available ingredients in your dishes, so too is the importance of having great people behind you. Wine tastings, staff meetings, hiring and firing; at the end of the day running a restaurant is what I imagine running a large household would be like back in the olden days. Very tough to do, but very, very much worth it.

Let's raise a glass to great staff!