2017-04-20 / Cuisine

In the kitchen with... VINNY TRUPIA,

Guanabanas Island Restaurant & Bar, Jupiter

Vinny Trupia has worked for Guanabanas since 2008. 
COURTESY PHOTO Vinny Trupia has worked for Guanabanas since 2008. COURTESY PHOTO Like the true Italian he is, Guanabanas Chef de Cuisine Vinny Trupia has a basil plant on his back porch. But until recently, that was the extent of Chef Trupia’s gardening.

As part of his restaurant’s Give Back Thursday events, Chef Trupia has partnered with Jupiter’s El Sol Community Center to manage one of the community garden plots in Guanabanas’ name. The restaurant donates its entire yield to feed hungry locals at El Sol.

“I saw it as a good team-building exercise,” said Chef Trupia, who rallied his team of six sous chefs to the garden to turn dirt, plant vegetables, weed, water and harvest the plants.

“One of our sous chefs took his kids along to the garden and now he has them interested, too,” said Chef Trupia, an Oklahoma native who moved to South Florida in 2000.

“It’s been a lot of fun,” he said of the gardening. “Each of us gives and hour or two a week to the effort.”

Helping the community is important, he said.

“We (the restaurant and staff) are so blessed with success and for me, being executive chef here is a lot of fun — and a lot of work,” he said. “We are happy to give back.” Guanabanas has done other community outreach programs, he said, including helping with the culinary program at Jupiter Middle School and with projects at Jupiter Christian School.

Chef Trupia worked his way up in the restaurant business, starting as a dishwasher. He has held chef positions at Bianca’s Italian Bistro in Juno Beach, and Bar Louie in West Palm Beach.

In 2008, he was hired as part of Guanabanas’ culinary team.

“We’re all about the freshness and quality,” Chef Trupia said. “That’s the key to our success. We’re known for a fresh fish program. We purchase all our fish from Florida and I’m in touch with our fishermen on a daily basis. I have a phenomenal team to work with me.”

Chef Trupia’s father was a chef in Florida, but he wasn’t his only inspiration. As a youngster, Chef Trupia watched his grandmother and mother prep and cook Sunday family meals, old-school Italian style.

Guanabanas, which serves between 1,000 and 2,000 people on busy days, was founded by Jupiter surfers in 2004. The restaurant has become an institution in northern Palm Beach County. The open-air waterfront restaurant and bar with woven tiki huts, towering banyan trees and hand-chiseled coquina stone pathways is known for its lush, tropical setting, island-inspired cuisine, cocktails and live music from both national acts and the hottest names in South Florida.

True to its roots, the restaurant still provides current surfing reports on its website.

Vinny Trupia

Age: 35

Original hometown: New York City, though I grew up in Lawton, Okla.

Restaurant: Guanabanas Island Restaurant & Bar, 960 N. A1A, Jupiter, 747- 8878, www.guanabanas.com; open at 11:30 a.m. for lunch and dinner seven days a week; breakfast served 8:30 a.m.-11 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

Mission: Providing guests with a truly unique outdoor dining experience. The restaurant offers true Florida experience with the creative outdoor restaurant design which utilizes quality exotic/ local plants and trees, Key West/Old Florida-styled structures, hand-built chickee huts from the native Indian tribes of Florida, fresh Florida seafood and a premium bar with live music.

Cuisine: Florida island flair and traditional Caribbean and Latin cuisines

Training: Florida Culinary Institute in West Palm Beach

What’s your footwear of choice in the kitchen? Emeril Lagasse slip-resistant service shoes

What advice would you give someone who wants to be a chef? Work hard. Be humble. This industry will give you what you put in to it. Always be willing to learn. Not a day goes by when I don’t learn something new. ¦

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