LODI, N.J. — A Lodi chef had the right ingredients to be named a rising star in his field by the James Beard Foundation.
Joseph Cuccia, 28, was named a chef under 30 to watch. Cuccia works at 17 Summer in his hometown of Lodi.
He opened the restaurant a year ago after his catering business continued to grow.
Cuccia said he did not expect to be receive the honor from James Beard Foundation, a national organization that celebrates all things food.
"It was cool," he told Daily Voice. "It's one of those things that you, that every chef, wants even to be nominated. The fact that it's a possibility for us is really crazy. It's great for the amount of work we put in."
Cuccia went to Hudson Community College for culinary lessons and studied business at Montclair State University. He worked at several restaurants before opening 17 Summer.
The Summer Street restaurant contains hyper-seasonal menus that changes every six weeks, the chef said.
Cuccia wanted to work with food since he was 8.
"There's something that just kind of draws you in and you either love it or you hate it," he said. "But it's excitement. It's always working. It's hard. It's also very rewarding. For me as an executive chef it's creative as well as business."
MORE INFO: Visit 17 Summer's website.