Meet our Team
Chef John Cirillo
Chef Cirillo grew up in a Toronto household where food took centre stage. His mother’s Sicilian roots filled home-cooked meals with Mediterranean style while his father, originally from Italy’s Puglia region, was a cheese importer whose store featured deli meats and popular take-out sections.
Early aspirations of becoming a carpenter or drummer were replaced with desire for a culinary career when a highschool Culinary Training teacher, Fred Koler, enthralled the young chef-to-be with stories of working at hotels in different countries, and competing in the Culinary Olympics.
At 17, Chef Cirillo began an apprenticeship at the Hilton Toronto Airport under Marcel Rothlin. He then travelled to Europe, learning his trade at the Hilton on Park Lane in London, England and then Switzerland’s Hilton Basel. Between 1994 and 1996, he was Executive Sous Chef at the Hilton Toronto working under the legendary Chef Albert Schnell.
At 31, Chef Cirillo returned to the Hilton Toronto Airport as Executive Chef. Four years later, Chef Cirillo was appointed to the position of Executive Chef of the Hilton Toronto and Tundra Restaurant, where he redefined Canadian cuisine until his departure in 2006. Some of Chef Cirillo’s many accolades he has achieved of the years include: Chef of the Year, Gold at the 2004 Culinary Olympics and coaching the 2016 Gold Medal Junior Canadian Culinary team.
When Chef Cirillo is not at work, you can find him watching Leaf highlights, sitting by his pool or having dinner with his wife Margit.
Director of Guest Experience
When the first location of Cirillo’s opened in 2009, you could find Erika washing dishes in the back (with Stef!). Swearing she would never work for the family business, she went her own way to explore her options. Erika attended George Brown College for Special Events Management where she had the opportunity to intern at The Four Seasons hotel in their events department.
After graduating, Erika started working for the prestigious Ritz-Carlton hotel as a reservation agent in their spa working closely with clients. Erika later transferred to the Front of house department joining the Guest Relations team where she used her events and interpersonal skills to create unique and memorable experiences for the hotel guests. She continued at the hotel in the Front of House for 3 years until the launch of our new Cirillo’s location downtown. Having a background in events and having learnt the best customer service from a 5 Star Hotel, she was back to working for the family business!
Erika is focused on connecting with guests and creating memorable experiences at Cirillo’s through the joy of good food and wine! Where can you find Erika when she’s not at work? Hitting up the best thrift shops, reading a good book or tending to her plants!
Director of Operations
Stefanie Cirillo’s vision for her budding foodservice-and-hospitality career began at the age of 15 when she started working at Cirillo’s Culinary Academy where she would wash pots (with Erika!) and eventually learn to serve.
She first joined Ritz-Carlton Toronto in an internship position in the banquet/event operation while completing her hotel management program at George Brown College. From the start, Stefanie demonstrated extraordinary leadership, awareness and problem-solving skills. She was quickly hired into a permanent position with the hotel and has grown her career at the Ritz-Carlton over the past 10 years, excelling at every position from server to assistant food-and-beverage manager. She has extensive knowledge of restaurant products, from her WSET accreditation to her fromager certification. In fact, as of May 2021. Ritz-Carlton Toronto has been recognized as the best-ranked food-and-beverage operation amongst all its 42 Ritz-Carlton hotels in North America.
After almost 10 years working for Ritz-Carlton, Stefanie decided to leave hotels and join the world renowned Eataly Toronto team as Assistant General Manager of Restaurants. Through her time there, she led a team of 80+ employees, oversaw multiple restaurants and shared her passion for Italian culture through food and wine. Stefanie is a big foodie and when she is not at work she is probably making a killer charcuterie and cheese board, sipping on a glass of Barolo and hanging out with her dog, Spiro.
Rachel Di Pede
Rachel grew up with food. She would cook with her Nonna and Nana at a young age and at 12 she knew she wanted to become a chef. She started working in restaurants when she was 16, doing her internship at Canoe and becoming Chef de Partie at Pure Spirits at age 19. Rachel has been with the Cirillo’s team for nearly 4 years, and brings big ideas. Where can you find Rachel when she’s not at work? Either at home cooking for her family or fermenting anything while listening to a true crime podcast.