James Rugile, executive chef at Venue, which opened in 2008 at 3609 West 32nd Avenue, is vacating that kitchen at the end of the month to join Frank Bonanno's kingdom of restaurants -- specifically, the kitchens of Luca D'Italia and Mizuna, the two Bonanno restaurants, along with Bones, that share alley space between Seventh Avenue and Grant.
"I realized that I'm young and relatively new to the industry, and I wanted to look for an opportunity to grow my skills, knowledge and experience," says Rugile. "Venue was an incredible opportunity for someone my age, but being the top dog in the kitchen meant that there was no one to teach me anything new, and there's a lot that I can learn from Frank."
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Bonanno extended the offer yesterday at Osteria Marco, 1453 Larimer Street, after Rugile and his wife stopped in for lunch. "He told me he'd put in his notice at Venue, and I asked him if he wanted a job, and that if he did, he could start today," says Bonanno, who will soon have an empty slot on the line when one of his chefs from Mizuna heads over to Lou's Food Bar, which will open in December at 1851 West 38th Avenue. "James will spend some time floating around at Luca and Mizuna, and eventually he'll become a lead line cook working the meat station at Mizuna. He's super-talented, and I want to have the best chefs in the city, and James is one of those guys."
Rugile echoes the same respect for his new boss. "I'm looking forward to working with Frank and having him as a mentor and guide and continuing my education as a cook and a chef, " says Rugile. "I love the fact that Frank is so established, and that I'll get to work with guys that I consider to be the highest caliber of chefs in the city, plus I'll get to work with the highest-quality ingredients."
As for his tenure at Venue, Rugile has only the highest praise for his soon-to-be-former employer, Holly Hartnett. "Holly is one of the most generous and genuine people out there, and I'm incredibly grateful to her for giving me the opportunity to work at Venue for the past two years."
Rugile will join the crew at Luca and Mizuna in early November.