John Varanese – Chef & Restaurateur – Varanese, River House & Levee Restaurants

John Varanese – Chef & Restaurateur – Varanese, River House & Levee Restaurants

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Taped Friday, October, 23rd, 2015 – Kirt sits down with chef and restaurateur John Varanese as he illuminates the audience on his culinary journey to financial success.

John obtained his BA in Food Serv. Mgt, & AS in Culinary Arts from Johnson & Wales Univ. in So. Carolina. While there, he was Kitchen Mgr. for 3 yrs. at Magnolias, a Southern cuisine landmark, where he refined his skills & participated in a creative & financially successful environment. It was soon evident he had quickly set himself apart from other chefs after displaying his accomplished understanding of business finance. While working in Magnolias, he showcased his great ability to control costs while producing very high quality cuisine using only fresh local ingredients!

The next great challenge in his culinary prowess came in 1998 when Azalea, a Louisville restaurant, offered him to be Executive Chef. There he developed his own management style, personality & culinary flair! After 3 years at Azalea, Varanese’s culinary & business skills peaked & he was ready to begin plans for his own restaurant, spending the next 4 years as Exec. Chef at the Cardinal Club.

In 2007-he left Azalea to open Varanese at 2106 Frankfort. Ave. in the Historic Clifton neighborhood. It opened Aug. 2007 to rave reviews with an eclectic menu of New American Cuisine, comfortably seating 150 between its bar, dining room & 4 Seasons Patio. The Patio has a dramatic 20-ft. slate water wall & is enclosed by a serpentine of glass doors, which retract to offer an outdoor dining experience! On Aug. 20th, 2008, to mark Varanese’s 1 yr. anniversary, yours truly helped John cut the ribbon on his new restaurant. Varanese is great for a date or any kind of celebration, hopefully you will check it out!

Today,John is known for his culinary creativity as well as his dedication to local farmers who provide fresh local products in many of his signature dishes. He is even the star & co-producer of his own TV show, “Big World of Food,”educating viewers on the importance of local farms to the food on their tables. More details at He has won numerous awards & has represented KY’s Dept. of Aquaculture 3 years in a row at the Great American Seafood Cook-Off in New Orleans. He was 1 of only 16 chefs in Kentucky to be invited to prepare a special dinner with James Beard chefs from around the U.S. at the World Equestrian Games in Oct. of 2010.

In 2012, Chef John was invited to cook at the prestigious James Beard House in NYC. He serves on the Kentucky Restaurant Association’s Board of Directors, and was President of KRA’s Louisville Chapter. John has been honored as 1 of the country’s top culinary talents in the premier edition of Best Chefs America & named “Restaurateur of the Year” by the KRA. In Aug. 2015, Chef Varanese announced his 2nd restaurant: River House. Part of a 27,000 sq. ft. complex to open in early 2016, located at 3015 River Rd., it will be Louisville’s premier riverfront dining destination & will represent the realization of Chef Varanese’s ultimate dream of opening a Louisville riverfront dining option!

Trust me, I know, I first met John in 2004 over this very same topic of a riverfront restaurant. Not wanting just 1 kitchen to focus on all of River. House, which could diminish consistency of product, in Oct. 2015 a 2nd restaurant was announced: Levee at the Rvr. House. Levee will be offering live entertainment vibes & a completely different menu than that of River House. John & his wife Jeanna, a nurse at Baptist East, reside in Louisville.

Original article available here.

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