Click Here for Chef Roger Thomas Bio
Chef Roger Thomas
Roger Thomas was raised with a deep respect and knowledge of food. His interest in cooking began both in his mother’s garden and his grandmother’s kitchen, and has since taken him on a delicious journey.
At sixteen, Roger began as a dishwasher, working for the Piscazzi Family in Akron at their highly regarded restaurant, the Wine Merchant. Soon he found his way into the kitchen and began honing his skills under the tutelage of the celebrated Lucia Piscazzi. By age nineteen, Roger was managing the kitchen. Four years later he had the honor of preparing a private luncheon for James Beard. In 1987, Roger had the extraordinary opportunity to move to Europe to further his craft. In Paris he apprenticed with Chef Michel Pasquet and became a certified chef. In the Loire Valley, he studied under Chefs Pierre Langlois and Marc Meneau. Oyster farming on Ile de Ré and pastry study in London were some of his stops before family circumstances called him back to Ohio.
Upon his return, Roger was Executive Chef at the remarkably successful Ken Stewart’s Grille before opening his first restaurant, Sixteen Eighty. From there he joined the Downtown Akron Renaissance with his new location, Piatto. In preparation, Roger returned to Europe, this time to Italy. He was invited to spend time in the kitchen with Chef Michele Brogioni at Relais Chateaux il Falconiere. Chef Brogioni then joined Roger in Akron for the opening season of Piatto. In 2001 Roger and Piatto were awarded “Best Restaurant in Akron” and “Best Italian restaurant in Northeast Ohio” in Northern Ohio Live Magazine’s Reader’s Poll. In 2002, Piatto was awarded the prestigious “Best Restaurant in Northern Ohio” by the same magazine. Piatto is still the only Akron restaurant to achieve the title.
In 2005, Roger and Piatto were invited to move into the newly renovated Sheraton Suites Hotel in Cuyahoga Falls, and he eventually took over all of the food service operations of the hotel. After eight years and numerous awards, Roger left the Sheraton in 2014 to join Fiore’s Italian Restaurants. From there the journey took him to Beverly Hills CA at the 5-Star, 5-Diamond hotel L’Ermitage, where he continues creating delicious European-inspired cuisine. Roger also enjoys working with, mentoring and training young people who share a common passion for cuisine, service and wine. His former apprentices can be found working in kitchens from South America, Europe and Asia to the establishments of Charlie Trotter (deceased), Guy Savoy, Sarah Lawrence College and Chateau Montelena in the United States.
Of all his experiences, Roger is happiest about his marriage to his wife Kathy, and their twins, John and Madeline.
Click here for Chef Aaron Hervey Bio
Chef Aaron Hervey
Grew up and graduated from Stow High school.
Graduate of Akron U. Culinary Arts.
1989-1992 Sheraton suites, Cook all positions, and p.m. sous chef.
1992-1994 Tavern Steak house at Quaker Square, Executive chef
1994-1996 The inn at Turners Mill, Executive Sous Chef.
1996-1998 Diamondback Brewery Executive Sous Chef.
1999-2001 Old Whedon Grille, Executive Chef
2001-currrent Crave, Owner and executive Chef
Married, Father of one, resides in west Akron.
Click here for Chef Anthony Scolaro Bio
Chef Anthony Scolaro
Anthony is the Chef/Owner at 111 Bistro in Medina. Chef Scolaro and business partner Meghan Pender opened 111 Bistro in June of 2014, recently celebrating their second year of being in business. Located at 2736 Medina Rd, the restaurant offers a quality dining experience in a very relaxed and inviting atmosphere. Chef serves a seasonally driven menu with a focus on quality, and locally sourced ingredients. In addition to a changing menu, 111 Bistro hosts a variety of specialty dinners where guests can experience, for example, a uniquely crafted menu with wine pairings. His unique view of food, and talents in the kitchen have landed him features in Cleveland Magazine and Akron Life Magazine, making the success of 111 Bistro no surprise. As the proud recipient of a variety awards from organizations like the American Culinary Federation, March of Dimes and others, Chef Scolaro credits his success to a long and diverse history in the industry.
Anthony developed a passion for food at a very young age and comes from a family where a love for cooking was always abundant. He began on his path at the age of thirteen when he first began working in kitchens, and has never looked back. His resume is packed full of experiences in nearly all types of culinary arenas including banquet halls, catering, hotels and hospitality, country clubs, private dining services and fine dining establishments just to name a few. Chef Scolaro graduated with honors from the University of Akron and obtained two degrees during his time as a Zip. He has great pride in the education he received and he now volunteers at the University to help the current students through lectures and hands on training in the kitchens. In a continued trend of giving back, Scolaro actively participates in charity events with organizations like March of Dimes, United way and the Akron Zoo.
When not in the kitchen Scolaro’s main hobby is his family. He and his wife Colleen have been married for over 7 years and thanks to her incredible support he was able to achieve his dream of being a restaurant owner. Together they are the proud parents of two beautiful children, Leah (5) and Dominic (3), who are their world. As local Wadsworth residents, the Scolaro’s are proud to be a part of this community and look forward to many years of sharing in its growth. To find out more about Chef Scolaro and 111 Bistro, please visit HYPERLINK “http://www.111bistro.com” www.111bistro.com or come in and visit!
Click here for Chef Josh Schory Bio
Chef Josh Schory
Josh Schory, executive chef and owner of Lucca, has traveled extensively through Tuscany. His favorite destination is the historic province of Lucca. Inspired by its beauty and attitude toward fresh ingredients, Josh created Lucca in the heart of downtown Canton’s arts district. He is excited to bring a fresh perspective to traditional Italian food. Before creating Lucca, Schory served as sous chef at downtown’s Fedeli restaurant. Schory graduated from the prestigious New England Culinary Institute.
Click here for Chef Dick Kanatzar Bio
Chef Dick Kanatzar
Chef Dick is as “Akron, Ohio – born and raised” as they come. He is a local product of the 330 that believes in his city and the revitalization of his home town. He brings a locally inspired cuisine with twists and flavors from all over the world. His farm to table practice and use of sustainable seafood literally brings a fresh outlook to your table.
Chef Dick’s fascination with cooking started at a young age. He started in his first professional kitchen at the age of 16. After high school, Chef Dick served as a corporate chef and trainer for the Michigan-based, Brann’s Steakhouse, and then returned to Akron to become the sous chef at Vaccaro’s from 2003 until 2009. Shortly after, he left to turn around the food and beverage program for a country club in Clearwater, Florida. However, the love he has for is hometown and state never wavered. He returned to Cleveland in 2011 to help open Cleveland’s Noodlecat, along with a stint at The Greenhouse Tavern. After that gig, Raphael Vaccaro invited him back, this time as executive chef. He has used this experience to hone his skills and please the pallets of Akron in a way that no one else has ever done before.
Now, Chef Dick brings a fresh new concept to the streets of Ohio with his pop up restaurant, “Chef Dicks Kitchen”. He also can be found around Akron doing various charity events, chef tables, beer and wine dinners. He collaborates with local ice cream favorite, Pavs creamery. He also is resident chef at portage lakes brewing company.
Click here for Chef Victor Todaro Bio
Chef Victor Todaro
My family has been in Business in Akron since the early 1900’s. We have done everything from Real Estate, Car Restorations, Restaurants etc.
In the Restaurant Industry, my Great Grandfather Rocco “Roxy” Piscazzi had a bar on Howard St. from 1938 until 1970. He died in 1968 and my Great Uncle John “The Merch” Piscazzi ran the bar for the final 2 years. In 1971 he opened The Wine Merchant in Akron’s Merriman Valley. He brought his mother, Lucia Piscazzi in to cook. Previously she was the head chef at Antonino’s in North Hill. The Wine Merchant was considered one of the best restaurants in Ohio and even the country for many years. Several times they were James Beard Award winners and even hosted a James Beard Awards dinner. Several great Chef’s have come out of The Wine Merchant including Roger Thomas and Dave Russo, and many other people who worked for the Wine Merchant have gone on to do great things in this industry.
When the Wine Mercahnt closed in 1998, I was just out of High School and while I was discovering my passion for the Restaurant Industry, I was too young and inexperienced to be able to carry on The Wine Merchant Legacy. I spent the next 15 years working to gain experience and save enough to one day carry on the Piscazzi name in the restaurant industry in Akron. I spent quite a bit of time working with Dave Russo at Liberty Brewing Company and Russo’s restaurant. I was able to gain very valuable experience at Liberty Brewing company by working any position that they would let me while in High School, and then serving and bartending in college. I was able to learn about beer from one of the nations best Brewmaster’s Tim Rastetter, who is currently with Thirsty Dog. When we moved to Russo’s, I was in charge of the bar and the Wine List.
From there i moved to Denver and sold boutique wine & spirits for a small craft distributor. When I moved back to Ohio, I was a wine representative in Columbus, Cleveland, & Akron. I sold to all of the top restaurants in these areas. I worked regularly with their staff and the chef’s to help guide their wine program’s and train their staff. After realizing that the money I needed to open a restaurant/bar was not going to be made selling wine, I moved into medical sales. Working my way up into a management position, I gained valuable experience managing a large team in a high pressure environment. It was at this time, I realized I was ready to own my own place.
I found this bar and bought it. I called Victor Todaro one day and asked if he wanted to help. He said yes, came down, looked over the place, we talked, and he never left. A few month’s later, I renovated and The Merchant Tavern was born.
The idea that is The Merchant Tavern is to create a place that reminds me of hanging out with my family and friends. Nice, Comfortable, High Quality and Approachable. Growing up in a food family, we ate such great food everyday, that it’s what is expected now. But we never had a lot of money, So I believe you shouldn’t have to go to a fine dining restaurant to have great food, and you certainly shouldn’t have to take out a small loan either. Selling wine for a living I became used to the pricing of a wholesale environment, so I don;t really agree with the huge markups that restaurants usually have, So we offer all of our wine at a small markup over retail. I cut my teeth in a brewery, so I like to have great beer around. Therefore we have 14 revolving craft beers at all times. And lastly, I loved learning and selling the craft liquor and liqueurs in Colorado, so I was excited to be one of the first to offer a craft cocktail menu in Akron.
I really wanted to create a place that I would hang out at quite frequently.