While the Top 40 Under 40 features professionals from all walks of life, one can’t help but notice that a substantial number of them — seven to be exact — come from the restaurant business. The list includes Richard Alverio of Funky Cow Café, Jorge Barreto of Assaggio!, Michael Brennan of Cardinal Bistro, Elvis Cadavid of Vagabond Kitchen and Tap House, Alvin Cintron of Chickie’s and Pete’s, Mathew Kenkelen of Ruth’s Chris Atlantic City and Robert Levinson of Resorts Casino Hotel.
When you think about it, this fact may not be surprising, after all, restaurant workers deal directly with guests on a daily basis, and by the nature of the business have many opportunities to impress their customers time and again with their service.
But beyond just great service, the people who made the Top 40 Under 40 have shown an ability to go above the norm, connecting with the community on another level altogether.
“We get to be a part of people lives every day. It’s truly an amazing and special privilege,” Kenkelen says. “Ronald Reagan once said ‘all great change in America begins at the dinner table.’ That’s probably my favorite quote of all time.”
Change seems to be an important factor for many of the Top 40 crowd. Barreto seems to thrive as a chef who can make a change for the better.
“Through Assaggio I am able to volunteer for events such as the Atlantic City restaurant gala, Chefs at the Shore, Manna at the Shore, hosting Salvation Army dinners and also supporting the GLBT Alliance by hosting gatherings for them as well. All in an effort to do my part and support our community,” Barreto says.
Cintron may not prepare the food, but his leadership at Chickie’s and Pete’s is remarkable in its own right. A heavy supporter of the concept of giving back to where you came from, Cintron goes out of his way to remember his roots.
“I always said that if I had the opportunity to come home I would make sure we would give back on a more localized scale. About three years ago I got my chance. As a company we are very generous, and I am proud to be a small part of that.”