BIOGRAPHY OF A NOBLE ARTISAN
There is a constant, recognizable thread in the career of Walter Mario Gualtiero Potenza to elevate the level of Italian culinary culture in the United States. A goal that he has consistently achieved from the day he became chef di cucina at one of the most acclaimed restaurant in the Northeast at the age of 25. Besides his unquestionable culinary talent and his winning business perspective, Chef Walter has been and is a relentless educator, with passion and knowledge, who contributes to defeat stereotypes.
His life, his career and his values are a model, an example to follow, by any chef of Italian gastronomy working outside Italy Passion and knowledge should be Walter Potenza's middle names. His restaurants are quite possibly the most authentic in New England. He is as much a historian as he is a chef. His attention to details and devotion to history gives his customers a delicious taste of the True Italy and the gastronomic treasures of the land. Chef Walter Potenza, a native of Giulianova on the Adriatic Coast of Abruzzo, Italy, but currently residing in the lovely charming town of Mosciano Sant'Angelo, is known as one of the most passionate and accomplished practitioners of traditional and innovative Italian cooking in the nation. Potenza came to America at the age of 19, to live with his family and study history at Rhode Island College, but it was clear very quickly, his love of cooking would draw him in another direction, directly to the restaurant business. Potenza has led kitchens in some of the most renowned restaurants in New England as well as in his Italian hometown. In 1994, Potenza opened The Sunflower cafe in the city of Cranston 'and La Locanda del Coccio, located in the Providence's Italian Section of Federal Hill. Opening in 1999 to raves from enthusiastic foodies, Chef Walter’s Aquaviva Eurobistro the first tapas-style restaurant-cafe in Rhode Island was launched, themed after a culinary immersion visit to Barcelona Spain History repeats itself, as is the case with Chef Walter.
Having opened his first fine dining restaurant appropriately named Walters in 1985, and originally located in East Greenwich, Rhode Island, Walter was anxious to reinvent this establishment elsewhere. While still guiding the kitchens at his other properties, Walter found the perfect venue and surroundings. This new fine dining jewel opened in 2004, housed in an historic 1917 Palazzo located on historically significant Federal Hill in Providence, the cultural centerpiece for the Italian immigration colony of the 1900. Christened Walters Ristorante d'Italia, the public enjoys the first-of-its-kind fine dining menu to feature la Vera cucina Italiana authentic cuisine derived from several periods through out Italian culinary history. Potenza’s unique cooking style is honed from a special love of recreating and reinterpreting Holiday dishes and foods traditional to the Italian Jews. The Jewish Heritage, has been associated with Italy for over 2.000 years, and its culinary repertoire integrated into the land. He is a presenter in National & International Conferences on the unique topic. In addition to operating his restaurants, Potenza is the Director of Chef Walters Cooking School operating in Abruzzo Italy. and in the State of Rhode Island. Lately, he has added a new location for his Travel & Cooking in his native Abruzzo.
His native Abruzzo is the centerpiece of the new Italian culinary discovery, specifically the province of Teramo where the chef was raised. He was the first chef in the United States to introduce the century’s old technique and art of Terracotta Cooking, with Chef Potenza devising historically accurate food dishes specially designed to be cooked in these clay pots which are also sold nationally to various acclaimed establishments and famous chefs. In the last 10 years Chef Walter has expanded his culinary research to nutrition and the connection with Celiac and Diabetes through Food Science. Both conditions are featured in menu selections in his restaurants and cooking classes are offered on the subjects. As a member of RCA (Research Chefs of America), Chef Walter spends endless hours in developing new recipes, and innovative flavors to complement the diet restrictions of his patrons. He recently founded The Culinary Council a Research & Development group specializing in formulating ideas and gold standard for regional and national food companies with major emphasis on Celiac and Diabete Foods. In year 2001 Chef Walter introduced Chef Walters Fine Foods a specialty food products segment.
His products are offered on-line and selected marketplace. In the Fall 2012 the specialty entity presented the new line "Federal Hill Foods" , honoring the foods and the culture of one of the oldest Italian colony in North America located in Providence Rhode Island. Potenza’s culinary awards include the Six Star Diamond Award, the Portonovo Award from the Marche Region of Italy, and the prestigious Insignia Award received in the years 1999 and 2006 by the Italian Government. The award identifies Chef Walter as one of the Ambassadors of Italian Culinary Culture worldwide. His articles are published in national and international gastronomic publication and the web. He has been featured on channels such as the Food Network, Fox, We Network, Travel, Rai, CBS, NBC, and the host of two cooking shows; Stir it up and Flavors & Knowledge with ABC which won him an Emmy for historical content. His Federal Hill cookbook is at his 4th printing and in the process of releasing two more; "Federal Hill all year sweets" and the much awaited "19 Ghetto" the life and the foods of the Jews in Italy after the Inquisition". Potenza was one of a select group of chefs named to the James Beard Specialty Chef Program, held during the 2002 Winter Olympic Games, Utah, and on the Culinary Menu Selecting Board of the events. A 2009 winner of the State of Rhode Island’s, Man of the Year, Potenza continues to teach the history of hundreds of years of culinary experimentation to many in his community, around the country and the World.
In May 2010 Chef Walter became a Cavaliere (Knight) for the Republic of Savoy in Switzerland for his educational contribution to the culinary world. In August 2010 Chef Walter was nominated member of the " Royal Guard of Honor " for the Savoy Dynasty". In 2010 Chef Walter was nominated “Master Chef” by the Association of Professional Chefs of Italy APCI and in 2011 Master Chef by "Academia Barilla ICMC". In the spring 2012 Chef Walter launched Chef Walters Cooking School in the city of Cranston RI with curriculums for Professional Chefs, Novice, Kids, Total Hospitality, as well as Wellness and Weight Loss Program In June 2012 "Potenza Ristorante" entered the list of Top 130 Italian Restaurant in the USA receiving the "Q" Ospitalita'Italiana Award". In November 2012, Chef Walters received the 'Toque Blanc D'Honneur" (Honorable White Toque) in Naples Italy. In April 2013 Potenza Ristorante-Bar relocated to the quaint City of Cranston Rhode Island, continuing the level of excellence and quality which have distinguished the establishment since 1985. 2013 Finalist in the World Pasta Championship at Academia Barilla, Parma, Italy 2013 USA Delegate for A.P.C.I. The Association of Professional Italian Chefs. January 2014 Winner of "The Grana Padano Award" as a leading professional in preserving and promoting Italian Cuisines in USA. Awarded by GVCI Group in Manhattan. In November 2014 speaker & presenter at World Summit of Italian Cuisine in Dubai. On April 2015 and 2018 Chef Walter wins on Food Network Guy's Grocery Games in Sonoma California.
Speaker at World EXPO Milan 2015 and Barilla World Pasta Championship in Parma Italy. August 2015 opening of The Federal Hill Heritage Center in Providence to commemorate the Italian Immigration Movement in Rhode Island. In the Fall 2016 two new operations were launched: Italian Food Artisans Agency of Marketing and I will marry you in Italy Wedding Planners activity.
Speaker & Presenter at Golfood 2017 Dubai UAE. Winner at Food Network Guy's Grocery Games 2016-1018
This wonderful journey continues..........................