Wednesday , May 09, 2018 - 12:00 AM
For over 10 years, Chef Geraldine Sepulveda was known throughout Ogden for her one-of-a-kind Italian dishes at Zucca Ristorante. In 2017, she left Zucca to open her own restaurant — Stellas American & Italian Bistro in Syracuse.
The Standard-Examiner sat down with Sepulveda to talk about her experience in the restaurant business and Stellas American & Italian Bistro. The interview has been edited for length and clarity.
S-E: What inspired you to become a chef?
GS: I think it was more like a who. I was in medical school for over five years and I came to this country to finish my schooling. When I came here I realized it was super expensive for an international student and I started working. It was the first time I had ever worked. I had the opportunity to work with an internationally well-known Chef, that trained and mentored me during the beginning of my career in the restaurant industry. I started working with him and I couldn’t believe all the things that he could do. I really enjoy the intimacy that is cooking for people and love the appreciation that people have when you are preparing meals for their most special times and events.
S-E: How did you come up with the name, Stellas?
GS: In my years of experience I had the opportunity to work and cook with different people of different backgrounds. I met two great people that worked as cooks, who had not only the same position as me, but the same passion as me. The restaurant business was their life, but they felt that nobody really appreciated what they were doing. And how much of themselves they put into their work. We then decided to start our own venture as a team. Stellas means “stars” in Italian and our logo has three stars on it. Isabel Reyes, Abraham Palacios, and myself. We are three stars who are fulfilling our dream. We opened the restaurant because we love what we do. We are very happy. I am very fortunate to have them with me.
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S-E: What do you love about the restaurant business?
GS: I love the closeness you can have with the people you work with and the relationships you develop with your customers. I also get fulfilment in taking a step to create something that I can be proud of. I love being part of events such as birthdays and anniversaries and making that event special for people. I cook with passion and love what I do.
S-E: What country are you from and how long have you been in the United States?
GS: I am from Chile. I came to the United States 12 years ago, when I was 24 years old.
S-E: What sets Stellas apart?
GS: We are an American & Italian Bistro. Every single dish we serve at Stellas is prepared with fresh ingredients to order and our menu was built by us from scratch. We are a casual restaurant with the feeling of home, but strive to provide a top-notch fine dining experience. We provide full service catering and are very experienced with large parties and events. We also have a beautiful patio that is open during the summer months and we change our menu with the seasons.
S-E: Where is Stellas located?
GS: 2432 W. 1700 S. Ste A1 Syracuse
S-E: Why did you choose Syracuse?
First of all, I feel like the west part of Davis County doesn’t have a lot of sit down dining options when it comes to taking the family out for the night. I live in Clinton and have seen that. People have to go all the way to Layton, Ogden or Salt Lake for a good meal. After living in the area for a short time, I saw an opportunity to provide my neighbors with another option. Syracuse city and the people here have been great and they believe in supporting local businesses. It was because of these things that I wanted to create my future here.
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S-E: What makes your restaurant unique?
GS: We are a family here. We are passionate about how we choose to spend our time, and we love what we do very much. We are lucky to have created such a great team that spends more time with each other than we do sometimes with our own families. We treat everybody with respect and everybody is welcome here. I feel that it’s important that our guests know that I am always at Stellas. If they have a menu request, a question, or an issue I am there for them and they can talk directly to me.
S-E: What type of food is on the menu?
GS: We have a great selection of American and Traditional Italian dishes. We begin your evening with homemade Foccacia bread baked fresh every day and we grill it before serving. We work hard to create special meals that are new each week. We also use a lot of seasonal and local ingredients so we can do our part in supporting other local businesses such as ourselves. We offer delicious and filling pastas, steak and seafood meals, as well as sandwiches and salads for those with a lighter appetite. We will be altering and putting out a new summer menu in the near future.
S-E: Do you have any specials going on?
GS: We have a popular lunch special that the community is loving. It’s available Monday through Saturday and is $10 for a three-course meal. It includes salad or soup, the main course, dessert and a drink. The special will continue throughout the summer. We also offer weekly specials that are not on the menu and change our soup frequently to offer variety to our guests.
S-E: What’s your family life like?
GS: I am married. My husband's name is Wilmer and we have a wonderful son, Benjamin. They are very supportive of my love for this business and I am looking forward to sharing my love as well as my experiences with them throughout our lives.
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