OTTO is a classic Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich partnership. With their signature combination of thoughtful and memorable food, an intelligent wine list, and an emphasis on living life to its absolute fullest, Mario and Joe's distinctive touch is evident in OTTO's every detail.
At the age of 14, Dan Drohan was hired as a dishwasher in an Italian restaurant in Sag Harbor, NY. Not too long after, he was promoted to cook. After finishing high school, Dan attended the Culinary Institute of America and after graduation, headed to Colorado where, for two years, he snowboarded by day and cooked at a resort by night. In the fall of 1999, Dan returned to the east coast and worked as a sous chef in restaurants in both Westchester and Shelter Island. In January 2004, Zach Allen, then the Executive Chef at OTTO, hired Dan to be his sous chef. Under Zach, Dan learned all the ins and outs of OTTO's renowned artisanal cured meats program. Dan took over as Executive Chef in the fall of 2005 and continues to produce all of OTTO's cured meats in-house. In 2007, under Dan's tutelage, OTTO became the first restaurant in New York City to have a Cured Meats HACCP plan approved by the New York City Health Department.
After working as a freelance textile designer and silkscreen printer for many years, Meredith Kurtzman found herself drifting towards cooking and volunteered as a kitchen assistant at the New School.
She subsequently received an IACP scholarship to study pastry arts at the New York Restaurant School and went on to extern at the Verbena Restaurant where she stayed on as a pastry assistant for two years. After a few years in the business, including positions at Bouley Bakery, Follonico, Cleaver Company, and Esca, Meredith had her initial gelato revelation while traveling on the Amalfi Coast.
When the opportunity to develop OTTO's dessert program based on gelato was offered to her, Meredith jumped at the chance. She creates gelato that attempts to fuse the modern technical aspects of gelato production with handmade artistry and an emphasis on seasonality.
A Seattle-bred, New York-based restaurateur, cookbook author, and television personality, Mario Batali is known for his signature style — brazen meets sophisticated, forward meets enduring. He was named Man of the Year in the chef category by GQ Magazine in 1999. In 2002, he won the James Beard Foundation's Best Chef: New York City award and in 2005 the James Beard Foundation awarded Mario Outstanding Chef of the Year. Mario is also one of the recipients of the 2001 D'Artagnan Cervena Who's Who of Food & Beverage in America, a prestigious lifetime achievement award. Most recently, he and Joe Bastianich were awarded the 2008 James Beard Foundation's Outstanding Restaurateur Award. Mario splits his time between New York City's Greenwich Village and northern Michigan with his wife Susan Cahn of Coach Dairy Goat Farm, and their two sons.
After studying finance and spending a year on Wall Street, Joe bought a one-way ticket to Italy and explored the country's small corners, keeping food and wine a top priority. He came back to New York and opened Becco with his mother, Lidia Matticchio Bastianich, and then partnered with Mario to open Babbo, which garnered three coveted stars from The New York Times and the prestigious Best New Restaurant in America award from the James Beard Foundation — indeed, the prophetic beginning of their thriving collection of restaurants. Joe is also a passionate wine-maker and teacher and wrote, with David Lynch, Vino Italiano. In 2005 he was recognized as an Outstanding Wine and Spirits Professional by both the James Beard Foundation and Bon Appétit. Most recently, he and Mario were awarded the 2008 James Beard Foundation's Outstanding Restaurateur Award. Joe feels fortunate to be "working within the vernacular of the Italian table."