who we are......
Chef/owner james de marte
James’ roots in Chicago can be traced back to the early 1900’s when his Grandmother Angela and Grandfather Achille arrived in Chicago’s Little Italy from Bari, Italy. Butchers by trade, Angela and Achille opened up shop on Halsted and Taylor Streets where they raised their family and flourished.
Fast forward to the early 1980’s, Angela and family had relocated to the western suburbs and set up shop; this time a restaurant. At the wise age of 11, James decided it was time to learn from Grandma.
After years of working in the family restaurant, James attended The Culinary School of Kendall College, then located in Evanston. His education at Kendall lead to extended stages with Roland Liccioni at the famed Le Francais and also at Les Nomades.
After several years of tutelage under Roland, James spent several years working with another mentor, Dean Zanella. The years with Dean were formative. According to James, “Dean showed me what it meant to be Italian.” Then, the real adventure began.
James took some time off to explore and eat his way around Asia and eventually settled in San Francisco. It was during this time that James met Paul Ferrari and Luca Guglielmi of AG Ferrari. The philosophy behind AG Ferrari was to have the best of the best. No compromise. James took this to heart and was off to Italy to see it first hand.
The first stop was the Michelin 2 star Ristorante La Peca in the province of Vicenza. James spent 5 years with Nicola and PierLuigi Portinari understanding how to elevate Italian cuisine to world-class levels.
James moved on to spend close to 2 years with Simone Padoan at Pizzeria I Tigli in Verona. It was at I Tigli with Simone where the possibility of bringing pizza to world-class levels was realized. It was also here where James was introduced to the world of biodynamics as the wines of Angiolino Maule, Josko Gravner, Radikon, etc, were featured prominently and were an integral part of the Tigli experience.
James then moved on to the Hotel Bauer in Venezia as the saucier under Executive Chef Giovanni Ciresa. His time at the Bauer led to another stint with Giovanni, this time as his Chef de Cuisine at the Hotel Palladio & Spa on the island of Giudecca in Venezia.
James then went on to a series of stages. His time at the world famous Il Cacctiatore da Cesare, in the mountains above Alba, opened James’ eyes to the wines of the Langhe and of course, white truffles. James’ interest in wine took him back to Vicenza to stage in the front of the house learning the ins and outs of properly serving wine, while also solidifying his knowledge of specifically Italian wine.
The last stop for James was a stage at Pasticceria Il Chiosco under the watchful eye of Francesco Ballico. James learned the basics of the art of pastries as the final piece of his 10 year Italian sojourn before returning home to Chicago.
James and Rachel teamed up to open Pisolino, and here we are today.
Owner rachel de marte
It’s not often that you meet someone whose personality is as bright as her talent is impressive, but this is certainly the case when it comes to Rachel De Marte. A go-to event planning, styling and catering expert for magazines like CS, Michigan Avenue and Sun-Times Splash, Rachel’s successful years in the industry have garnered her the reputation and experience necessary for the continued success of Rachel De Marte Events.
As a tastemaker with the ability to plan, design and execute highly styled events – including invitations to florals to food and everything in between, Rachel’s company embodies amazing style, great taste and a good time for all.
Rachel’s passion for food coupled with a limitless creativity allows her to design and execute unique events. Because she thrives on highly styled Food & Beverage (+ sheer energy) she and James made Pisolino a reality.