Anton Testino is a first generation Italian born on August 26, 1973 in Weehawken, NJ. He's a celebrity chef, reality TV star, author, celebrity spokesperson and restauranteur. Anton specializes in Italian American cuisine. He is a standout reality TV chef, first appearing on Food Network's Chopped in 2010. In Spring of 2014, Anton shined on Gordon Ramsey's Hell's Kitchen (U.S. season 12). In the past year, Testino has opened up two restaurants in his native state of New Jersey. He also penned his first autobiographical cookbook Cooking-with-Confidence which launched in August 2014.
EARLY LIFE Anton Testino was born on August 26, 1973 in Weehawken NJ to a Chef father and mother Francesca who was from Bari, Italy. His father left his life at an early age, leaving Anton, his older sister and mother to fend for themselves. His mom was an ItalianImmigrant Mother with no education who had to take on numerous jobs to survive. And had to move Anton and his sister throughout NJ includingNewton, Sussex , North Bergen, New Jersey,and Paterson, New Jersey. As a teen, Anton and his family finally settled in Pompton Lakes, New Jersey Testino worked at a local pizzeria at the age of 12 to help his mom out. He was stationed at the front window of the restaurant making pizza to draw attention to the business. He was diagnosed with a comprehension deficit disorder , dyslexia and ADHD at an early age so when he entered High school, football helped him get through the tough years. That was until he was injured his senior year. Anton turned back to what he knew best, Food.
CAREER In 1991, Anton Testino attended Morris County Vocational Tech in Denville, NJ for culinary arts. He graduated at the top of his class. He won many amateur competitions. In 1992, he was accepted to Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY. There he furthered his education until 1993 when he dropped out due to lack of finances. The eager chef still couldn't be stopped, so in 1995 Anton opened his first restaurant, Antonio's Pizza, Pasta and More. It was located on Route 5 in Edgewater, NJ. He was very successful for a year and a half when Edgewater underwent major construction hurting his business forcing him to close in 1998. Testino then worked at several restaurants in Northern New Jersey continuing his hands-on education. In 2009, when he worked at his family's restaurant, Tony's Touch of Italy, he became known throughout the community and with their support, he tried out for Food Network Chopped. Anton made it on Season 5 of the show and in October of 2010, his episode "When Octopuses Attack" aired. With his national exposure, he was able to give back to the community and contribute his time for charity work. Cooking for Kids at St. Joseph's Children's Hospital is just one of the charities he is proud to be a part of. In 2012, Testino auditioned for Gordon Ramsay Fox's Hell's Kitchen, and in March 2014, his season aired. He competed against the largest group of chefs in the show's history, where he excelled and became known as the fearless New Jersey chef. After appearing on the show, St. Joseph's honored him as a celebrity spokesperson. He is also now recognized as a Celebrity Chef and has become with affiliated with Habitat for Humanity and American Homeless Association. In 2015, Anton went back to where he started, Morris County Tech, to donate his time to give the students culinary demonstrations and do motivational speaking. Also in 2015, Testino opened up his new restaurant in Pompton Lakes, New Jersey called Axton's, which he has named after his only son.
TV In 2010, Anton Testino competed on Ted Allen Food Network's Chopped. His episode, "When Octopuses Attack", was one of their most controversial episodes. His judges that day were Arron Sanchez, Marc Murphy and Alex Guarnaschelli. They all agreed that his octopus was cooked perfectly but somehow was defeated by a competitor who served inedible raw fish. After its airing, the show got some backlash for the outcome and the episode was taken off YouTube. Anton's episode still airs on tv several times a year following its original debut. In 2014, Testino competed on Gordon Ramsey's Hell's Kitchen (U.S. TV series) on Fox. He was quickly recognized for his skills in the kitchen and ability to run a kitchen. He impressed Ramsey and other Michelin with his creativity and unique style of cooking. Anton stood out with his strong, powerful voice. Testino said " Being on Hell's Kitchen was an amazing experience, one that changed my life. One of the greatest moments in my culinary career was when I won the Wolfgang Puck pizza competition. He scored me a 4 out of 5, when I unknowingly duplicated the pizza that made Wolfgang famous, smoked salmon pizza." Anton knocked out 12 out of 20 chefs before getting himself thrown out of Hell's Kitchen for butting heads with Chef Andi and more importantly, for telling Ramsey that he had no desire to work for him but to make a name for himself so he can open up his own restaurant.
COOKBOOK At the end of 2011, Testino decided to write his own autobiographical cookbook "Cooking with Confidence". The book reveals his struggles with immigrant parents, having an alcoholic-drug addict father, physical abuse, love and loss. He shares what he had to go through to be able to come out the other side, which ultimately prepared him for life experiences like Chopped and Hell's Kitchen. He wanted to make everyone realize the sacrifice you have to make to be a chef and to inspire others to never give up on their dreams. Anton continues to do book signings and motivational speaking to give back and never forgets where he came from.
HOPES Anton Testino's hopes and goals are to start his own charity to help the causes that mean the most to him. He hopes to start an internship program for culinary students and to appear on TV again, but this time as a judge or host. His ultimate goal is to be his son Axton's hero.
COOKING STYLE Italian
Food Network Chopped
Mulberry Street Cafe, Waldwick, NJ
Axtons, Pompton Lakes, NJ
AUTHOR Autobiographical Cookbook Anton Tesino Autobiographical Cookbook