Sun Devil Career Snapshot: Nick Stellino ’80 B.S.

Italian-American television chef and author Nick Stellino left behind a successful Wall Street career for his first love – cooking. (Photo courtesy Nick Stellino.)


(Editor’s note: Today’s post continues a series of profiles of successful ASU alumni and shares their tips for succeeding in the career marketplace.)


After nearly a decade of post-collegiate career development, Italian-American television chef and author Nick Stellino left behind a successful Wall Street career for his first love – cooking.

“As an Italian, cooking is in our DNA,” Stellino said. “We Italians put ingredients together like perfect harmonies, to create a meal which is like a beautiful song,” Stellino said.

Stellino’s abrupt resignation from Wall Street in 1991 put him on a culinary journey that began with a job as a mere restaurant dishwasher, since no one would yet hire him as a chef. He said his late uncle, who lost his battle with cancer, challenged him to follow his dream.  He also attributed the change to the example of his father, who gave up farming to become a businessman.

Over the past two decades, the Los Angeles-based chef has authored eight cookbooks and hosted numerous successful TV cooking shows. He credits his marketing degree at ASU’s W. P. Carey School of Business with helping him land the cooking show deals and sell his cookbooks.

Stellino shares traditional family recipes with food lovers worldwide to honor his Italian heritage. He frequently reminds his audience that cooking is about using simple ingredients to create the best homemade meals. His own culinary creativity was groomed by his Sicilian father in their hometown of Palermo. Italy.

“My father was an incredible chef; he would cook for everyone,” Stellino said. “I witnessed the incredible impact my father’s cooking had on people.”

Later on, after his business career, Stellino was mentored by renowned Los Angeles chef Celestino Drago and Denver chef Giancarlo Macchiarella. The fellow Sicilian chefs taught him the art of mastering Mediterranean cuisine. Stellino said he was hungry for knowledge and these chefs were willing to teach him.

Arizona State University helped Stellino become more socially engaged and build the confidence to execute ideas. He had arrived in the United States in 1975, and as a member of Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity, he used his love of food to initiate formal dinners in which his fraternity hosted other fraternities and sororities.

“Being at ASU were the most transformative years of my life,” Stellino said.

The acclaimed chef encourages people to learn from his career. He urges everyone to chase their dreams and turn them into a reality.

“It’s punishment to do something you hate every day,” Stellino said. “I didn’t want to spend my time pursuing a monotonous career.”


~ Bo Tefu, a student at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.