OCEAN CITY — Worcester County native Alfio Celia, an accomplished chef, has hit the culinary jackpot and will be featured on the premiere episode of the new Food Network Channel program “Kitchen Casino.”
The highly-anticipated show will see Celia squaring off against three other chefs in a cooking competition. The unique spin of the show is the casino angle, where games of chance like slot machines, roulette and poker will be implemented in creative ways during different stages to present new challenges to the chefs. Celia’s episode will be the first of the series and will premier Monday, April 7, at 9 p.m. on the Food Network.
Celia is a Worcester Prep graduate and former Ocean City resident who began cooking at his family’s restaurants as a teenager.
“He started with my husband [Salvo]. He started in the family business with his father at Salvatore’s,” said his mother, Shelly Celia.
“Starting in the deli, he learned fundamentals of simple Italian Cuisine,” reads the bio on the chef’s website. “He learned to make pizza and soups and moved to more complex dishes and techniques. Throughout his younger years, Chef Alfio worked his way up through his family’s restaurants, always looking to become a chef.”
After graduating from Worcester Prep, Celia attended Mt. St. Mary’s where he earned a business degree. Even in college, he never stopped cooking and Celia devoted himself full-time to his craft after graduation. He didn’t go far from the shore, training in Western Maryland before re-locating in Washington D.C.
“After his early start, he went on to master his skills at L’Academie de Cuisine so that he could become a part of the D.C. dining scene,” read his bio. “Chef Alfio completed his externship at Volt, by Bryan Voltaggio, in Frederick, Md. … For him, ‘a chef has to be able to tell a story with his food and it has to be an interesting story.’”
Celia’s own story is one heavily influenced by family and the Eastern Shore. His grandfather, also named Alfio, opened Freddy’s Pizza on the Boardwalk in 1973 followed not long after by Celia’s father opening the first Salvatore’s in Ocean City in 1980. Celia followed in the family footsteps and opened his first restaurant in D.C. at age 22. However, over the last few years, he has moved into catering and now operates a premier personal chef/catering service.
Celia specializes in in-home parties and event catering, serving groups as small as four or as large as 200. A lot of the early influences of working in the family business in Ocean City seem to have carried over to his catering menu and will likely be on display on national television when Celia competes in the first-ever Kitchen Casino.
Unfortunately, due to the secrecy surrounding the actual competition and Food Network’s confidentiality policies for shows that have yet to air, Celia was unable to comment.
His parents, however, could not be more proud of their son for being featured on the Food Network, which is by far the most recognizable national media platform for foodies and culinary artists.
“[While working in the family businesses], he more or less ended up knowing every recipe better than pretty much anyone that we had,” said Shelly Celia.
Coincidently, this isn’t the first time a Worcester County native has been featured on Food Network. Berlin’s Cupcakes in Bloom owner Shawnee Weber Berzonski competed on the channel’s popular “Cupcake Wars” show in 2012.
Celia will compete for a $30,000 jackpot against three other top-notch chefs on Food Network’s premier episode of “Kitchen Casino” Monday, April 7, at 9 p.m.