began his culinary career of Clearwater's Pepper Mill Restaurant in 1991 after graduating from Johnson & Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island. Due to the kindness of one of its patrons, Chef Ponte studied culinary arts in Paris at the Cordon Bleu, France's iconic culinary institute. Ponte achieved his degree at the top of his class and, upon graduation, was hired as an apprentice at the famed Taillevent, also in Paris.
it all began in Bozeman Montana making salsa with 'Hot momma's salsa'. Shortly after he landed his first cook job at Dellas after Dark. From there he was pushed to work with the best, passing through kitchens from 'Highlands bar & Grill' in Birmingham to Asador Etxebarri in Spain, though most proudly at Pulinos under chef Nate Appleman in Manhattan. These influences led Wesley to understand the drive and desire necessary to do great things, in and out of the kitchen. He prides himself on leading and being part of a serious, strong, dedicated team driven toward constant growth and betterment. All while maintaining a smile. Out of the kitchen Chef Wes loves Korean bath houses and hiking in the mountains, though he doesn't often enjoy either.
started his career in 2005 cooking in New York Cities dining scene. His most impactful experience was working under Doug Psaltis at Country in NYC. Along with learning a great deal of cooking techniques Doug taught him the importance of always being organized and prepared for any situation in the kitchen. Anthony greatly enjoys passing on the knowledge that he's learned from New York to Florida with others.
brings 40 years of full service restaurant experience and has led various restaurant businesses at an executive level for the past 24 years. John most recently served as President of Bonefish Grill, Inc.. Prior to that he was the President of Zazarac Restaurant, Inc. and an equity Partner with Outback Steakhouse having developed and operated 13 restaurants. He plays a vital role in overall strategic and operational direction of the company.
has been in the industry for more than 40 years. She began a lifelong dedication to people and the industry as she joined Bennigan's leading and organizing training teams during a period of high expansion. After her time there, she joined forces with Bob Basham and Chris Sullivan who together developed, opened & operated 18 Chili's restaurants. The team along with Tim Gannon went on to found the first Outback here in Tampa, Fl. As co-founder and Senior VP for Outback, Trudy has extensive experience in operations, marketing, and brand design.
started his career 20 years ago as a "Bloomin" onion cook with Outback Steakhouse to gain experience prior to attending culinary school. While never making it to culinary school, Chris quickly advanced through the kitchen to become a Food Tech for the North Florida area as well as a back of the house new store opening coordinator where he was responsible for opening over 75 restaurants. Soon after Chris decided to join Outback Intl. Where he was responsible for the development of Outback Steakhouse in 22 different countries. This led Chris to becoming a Managing Partner in Libson, Portugal. Chris was given the opportunity to join Bonefish Grill, Inc. where he spent the last 14 years as a VP of Training and Development helping to expand the concept to over 208 locations.
with much experience and training behind him, Ponte began investigating opportunities to create his own culinary legacy. When he began looking for a geographical locale to open his first restaurant, his fondness for Florida and his West Coast connections led him to the Tampa Bay area where he opened Cafe Ponte in 2002. Ponte has brought with him exceptional dished ranging from Asian to Italian with lessons from classic European cuisine, all with spectacular presentation and great taste.
has a background in marketing and sales. Her sucessful entrepreneurial venture in retail sales has been foundational to her contribution to the success of Cafe Ponte. Michelle has been instrumental in developing and executing the marketing strategy of Cafe Ponte and On Swann. Through her example and positive leadership both Chris and Michelle impact the lives of many they have touched over years in the business. Michelle has led countless community and charitable efforts with the blessings of Cafe Ponte to contribute meaningfully to the community.