Each month Gather by D'Amico invites a guest chef to bring their culinary magic to the guests of our restaurant. We have had many award winning chefs that have been nationally recognized for their creativity and ingenuity. Take a moment and peruse a bit of our culinary history.
As Executive Chef for the full-service restaurant division of D'Amico & Partners, Jay Sparks oversees seven (7) kitchens, providing culinary direction for D'Amico Kitchen, Parma 8200, Campiello (two locations, Minnesota and Florida), Café and Bar Lurcat (two locations, Minnesota and Florida) and Masa. Sparks is the vital creative culinary force for D'Amico & Partners and widely considered to be a one of the most influential chefs on the Twin Cities restaurant scene.
The Chefs who have cooked for, trained with, or been mentored by Sparks is a "Who's Who" of Minnesota culinary luminaries including: Isaac Becker, Doug Flicker, Lenny Russo, JP Samuelson, Tim McKee, Jim Grill, and Seth Bixby Dougherty.
Sparks assumed the position of Executive Chef in January, 1996, when the rapid growth of D'Amico & Partners forced Larry D'Amico (Vice President of D'Amico & Partners) to relinquish those responsibilities. Before the promotion, he was Operating Chef of D'Amico Cucina, a position he held more than two years. Sparks' entry into the D'Amico organization was through D'Amico Cucina where he began as a line cook in November 1989. In early 1990, the organization asked him to create the menu for Azur, their critically acclaimed restaurant featuring the French Mediterranean cuisine. At both properties, Sparks' passion for superior ingredients and impeccable presentation became his trademark.
Before joining the D'Amico family of restaurants, Sparks worked at Alfredo's, an authentic Italian restaurant in St. Paul, MN, where he was a Sous Chef. Later he spent a year as Sous Chef at the 510, a venerable bastion of fine dining in Minneapolis. The 510 promoted him to Chef in August 1985, and he stayed there until he was drafted by the D'Amico organization in 1989.
Throughout his career, both Twin Cities and national food press have kept close tabs on Sparks. In 1990, the trade magazine Restaurant Business dubbed him one of the nation's "Rising Stars." Also that year, soon after the successful opening of Azur, Esquire magazine singled out Azur as one of the country's top new restaurants for 1990.
Restaurants under his tutelage have also received countless local awards.
Sparks grew up in Florida where he studied classical and jazz guitar. This led to a successful career as a jazz musician. Following the advice of a Chef relative, he embarked on a career shift and enrolled in Hennepin Technical College, where he received his culinary degree in 1982.
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