Early warning signs.
Even at the tender age of 8, Celina Tio’s favorite days revolved around making grocery shopping lists, Julia Child re-runs and baking and cooking for family and friends.
The right guidance.
The chef-restaurateur knew early on she wanted lead a kitchen, thanks to her family's culinary influence and work ethic.
After working in restaurants throughout her teens and earning a degree in hotel and restaurant management from Drexel University, Tio started cooking at Philadelphia’s Ritz-Carlton hotel. By age 23, she had been promoted to head the hotel’s Grill Room.
Hitting her stride.
Craving a broader challenge and the ability to develop an audience for her cooking, Tio moved to Orlando. There she helped open three specialty restaurants for Walt Disney World: Spoodles, featuring Mediterranean cuisine; Citricos, specializing in Southern French dishes and Palo, an upscale Italian experience.
Big steps, big honors.
Tio truly made her mark during the following seven years heading the kitchen at Kansas City’s renowned American Restaurant. There she garnered both local and national accolades, including 2005 Chef Of The Year by Chef magazine and the James Beard Foundation’s 2007 Best Chef: Midwest.
Finding a comfort zone.
Tio now channels all that experience into her first proprietary restaurant, Julian, which has become a Kansas City neighborhood mainstay. There she creates the chef-driven twists on American comfort food she calls “feel good food” for a diverse clientele that appreciates distinctive seasonal dishes in a casual atmosphere.
Onward and upward.
Always on the lookout for new adventures and opportunities, Tio has made a successful leap to television, competing strongly on popular cooking shows like Food Network’s “The Next Iron Chef” and Bravo’s “Top Chef Masters.”