A TEAM OF GOURMET CHEFS TAKES HEALTH FOOD TO A WHOLE NEW LEVEL IN FREEHOLD
BY JESSICA JONES GORMAN • PHOTOS BY ROBERT NUZZIE
Jamie Giovinazzo was just 19 years old when he started cooking healthy meals for a couple of members of his gym. Working with a small budget and out of his friend’s kitchen, he began grilling chicken, steaming broccoli, and baking sweet potatoes. He had no business experience, but plenty of big ideas.
Although he was successful cooking for his small group of pals, launching a new business proved difficult, and Giovinazzo soldiered through seven failed attempts. One last push in 2013 finally paid off for the young entrepreneur, and after selling 82 meals in his first week, Eat Clean Bro was born. By 2014, Giovinazzo had built enough of a clientele to hire John Panebianco as his culinary director and executive chef.
“I met Jamie when we worked together at Brando’s in Asbury Park,” Panebianco said. “He was the bartender, and I was the executive chef, and we had similar ideas about what we called ‘clean eating.’”
Panebianco, who started cooking at the age of 15, was on board with Giovinazzo’s goal of providing fresh, restaurant quality, chef prepared food that was all natural and preservative free, and his impressive resume and decades of experience was exactly what Eat Clean Bro needed.
A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, Panebianco studied under chefs Marcel Desaulniers and Biagio Settepani before becoming a private chef for several Fortune 500 families.
Additionally, he ran a country club in Virginia and opened a Ruth Chris Steakhouse in Maryland before taking the executive chef position at Brando’s. Well known in the local community for his innovative take on Italian cuisine, Panebianco brought Giovianzzo’s dream to a new level.
“What we do here is take items you’d find on the menu at a high end restaurant and make them healthier and leaner. We eliminate the butter and heavy cream all those things that people try to keep away from when they’re eating healthy,” he explained. “We make all of the dressings, sauces, and stocks from scratch, so it’s all fresh with no preservatives. Our chicken is antibiotic free, and we only use lean cuts of beef.
”Chef Panebianco’s creations include Italian, Asian, and Mexican dishes: Seafood Fra Diavolo, Chicken Sorrentino, Shrimp Fajita Bowls, and Chipotle Chili. “ The intent was to provide a little bit of everything dishes that people are used to eating, just a healthier and leaner version,” said the chef.
Andrew Mazza, the restaurant’s sous chef and co inventor of Eat Clean Bro’s menu, brings some fusion and air to the operation. “I have a background in cooking strictly Asian fusion,” Mazza said, detailing his career as a personal chef and food truck a cionado. “When I met Chef John, who has an Italian background, we just kind of clicked. It was easy for us to blend cooking styles and start producing really great food.”
A graduate of Johnson and Wales College of Culinary Arts, Mazza has been cooking professionally for 14 years, and loves the culinary freedom Eat Clean Bro provides.
“Health food has been popular for a long time,” said Mazza. “And now, with the gluten free movements and a strong spotlight on the harmful effects of GMOs, it’s really an important part of our culture. I love having the ability to take fresh, healthy foods and turn them into something tasty.