Dana Klitzberg has been educated in Italian cuisine over the course of 27 years spent visiting and living in Italy -- as a student, traveler, resident, and professional chef. She is, to date, the first (and possibly remains the only) female American chef ever to serve as Executive Chef of a restaurant in Italy...twice. Her depth of knowledge and understanding of cooking technique, Italian and Mediterranean cuisine and its flavors and history, and restaurants and the service industry in general, have been honed over the course of countless hours spent in professional restaurant kitchens, catering, serving clients as a private chef, teaching, traveling, writing, reading and studying food in all its forms. Chef Dana loves her work and views it as a pleasure, from which both she and her clients reap delicious rewards.
Ms. Klitzberg's passion for great food was ignited at a young age, as her sweet tooth drew her to her mother's side in the kitchen, preparing desserts for dinner parties and family gatherings. Growing up in central New Jersey, she traveled frequently to her grandparents' farm in Pennsylvania, where she developed a taste for fresh, seasonal ingredients, working alongside her family to harvest fruits and vegetables. Visiting her other set of grandparents in NYC, she'd enjoy the distinct flavors of fried calamari in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, and the classic New York deli in which her family would indulge, as well as trips to Chinatown and Little Italy for family dinners. Summer vacations in New England meant pushing out to sea on a boat to catch fresh lobster, or plucking the famously sweet wild blueberries in Maine. Years later, on an eye-opening high school trip to Italy, Dana forged a lasting bond with the cuisine, people, and culture of the Bel Paese. While at the University of Virginia, she spent a semester studying in Florence, where she took a series of private cooking classes that made an indelible impact on her, and would plant the seeds for her future career. Ms. Klitzberg also studied ballet, jazz, and modern dance for 25 years, and performed as a member of the Princeton Ballet II Company -- which taught her about timing and theatricality, things she would find helpful in the "theater" of the restaurant kitchen.
Ms. Klitzberg began her cooking career at the renowned Italian restaurant San Domenico NY, and later moved to Rome, Italy. She spent 8 years in the Eternal City, furthering her restaurant career by cooking her way up to executive chef, collaborating with top Italian Michelin-starred toques, and honing her craft and her palate through travel up and down the Italian peninsula, and around the world.
Simultaneously, she launched blu aubergine in 2001, to cater events among expats and teach cooking classes to visiting foreigners in Italy. Over the years and the course of her restaurant work, the company grew into a favorite catering company for international clients in film and the arts, as well as diplomatic institutions (foreign embassies, the American Academy of Rome), and governing agencies like the Rome-based Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) of the UN.
When she wasn’t behind the burners of Roman restaurants, Ms. Klitzberg was writing about them – as restaurant critic for various publications including the Time Out guide series, and 12 years as the sole Dining Editor and general contributor to Fodor’s guides to Rome and Italy.
Dana now spends most of her time in New York City, and returns to Italy several times a year for extended stays, during which she continues to conduct classes and tours, cater, write about Italian food, and renew inspiration in her food-obsessed surroundings. Ms. Klitzberg enjoys the juxtaposition of the pulsating metropolis of Manhattan's diverse culinary offerings, with the perennial "pizza-and-pasta" food culture of Italy, where farm-to-table is not a trend... because it's always been a way of life.
Ms. Klitzberg grew up in Princeton Jct., New Jersey, and holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Virginia in English Language and Literature. She received a professional degree in Culinary Arts from New York City's Institute of Culinary Education (formerly Peter Kump’s) in 1999.