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.

Event Managers

Margit Cirillo

Owner/Event Manager – 4894 Dundas Street

Margit grew up in Wallersdorf, Germany – a small village outside of Munich. At age 16 she moved to participate in a Food and Beverage apprenticeship at the Kurhotel Hofmark, Spa in Bavaria. Feeling like she needed to see what a big city had in store for her, she moved to London, England. She worked as an au pair before landing a job at the Hilton on Park Lane as a room attendant, then traveled to work at the Hilton in Basel, Switzerland.

When she arrived in Canada in 1989, she continued her career with Hilton. She started as a Front Desk Agent, then Duty Manager eventually becoming the Executive Housekeeper of the Toronto Hilton.

In 2009 Margit joined her husband, John Cirillo, to open Cirillo’s Culinary Academy and continues to be one of the most important members of our team. When Margit is not at work, you can find her watching a German film or playing with their Toy-Poodle, Buddy.

Erika Cirillo

Event Manager – 118 The Esplanade

When the first location of Cirillo’s opened in 2009, you could find Erika washing dishes in the back. Swearing she would never work for the family business, she went her own way to explore her options. At 18 she started work at The Ritz-Carlton, Toronto as a Spa Front Desk Agent.

At the same time Erika attended George Brown College for Special Events Management. After graduating, she continued at the hotel in the Front of House for 5 years. 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 experiences at Cirillo’s that they will never forget. Where can you find Erika when she’s not at work? Hitting up the best thrift shops, playing softball or tending to her plants.

Culinary Assistants

Rachel Di Pede

Culinary Assistant

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.

Hang Dao

Culinary Assistant

Born and raised in Vietnam, Hang went to University to study Logistics and Supply Chain Management. Finding the inspiration from her Mom and Sister, both fantastic cooks, she decided to change careers paths, move to Canada and study Culinary Management at Humber College. Hang loves to create Southeast Asian dishes and can make about 300 Vietnamese Summer Rolls in 10 minutes. Where can you find Hang when she is not at work? She’s definitely finding the best Asian restaurant in Toronto or spending time with her nieces.

Dylan Surk

Culinary Assistant

Dylan graduated from George Brown College’s Culinary Management Program in 2011. After working in the city, he decided to move to Japan to expand his culinary knowledge. Dylan started working at Cirillo’s in July 2019, and has been a huge part of our opening team. Where can you find Dylan when he is not at work? 100% at the gym or sipping coffee while reading a Japanese language book.