Josephine Todd was raised in lake county where she developed her passion for cooking. She was raised in a home with younger siblings where she took on the role as caretaker as well as teaching herself how to cook for her family. Her mother was raised in a Sicilian home where she found a passion for family and the culinary arts. Her family is a huge proponent for pursuing the cooking industry. She worked in a few restaurants in lake county such as Bravo in Mentor, Capps Pizza in Leroy and Brown derby steakhouse. Each restaurant instilled the drive for a fast paced , high volume environment that every chef desires. Embarking on her journey of the culinary arts, she is privileged to be learning and growing from amazing talent around her as well as the Longo-Greci family who puts care in scratch food as well as using local ingredients to elevate the taste and flavor of every dish.
Chef David Hopkins comes from a long background of food. He began embarking on his culinary career when he was a teenager, working with his neighbor’s church in Cleveland Heights for their yearly cultural festival. From that point on, his full time career began in local country clubs, and then on to serve his country. Upon returning from the service, he completed his formal apprenticeship at Hawthorne Valley Country Club and moved on to the public restaurant business. His tenure includes a decade with Hyde Park Grille and Chop House in both Cleveland Heights and Moreland Hills, as Executive Sous Chef, as well as a stint at their Chagrin Falls seafood restaurant. He moved on to head up the kitchen with the Beachclub Bistro Group, where, together, with a talented staff, developed a dynamic venue of “upscale casual” dining. His focus on sustainability in the dining world enabled him to be a contributor to Cleveland Independents, the independent restaurant movement in Cleveland, focusing on independently-owned sourcing and businesses in the 21st century. In the recent number of years, David served as Saucier/Chef de Partie for The Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island, and Chef de Cuisine for 1921 Suites at The Cleveland Clinic, partnering with other like-minded chefs to execute a fine dining atmosphere for some of Cleveland’s most prominent individuals, as well as foreign dignitaries and their families while they received world-class healthcare. Taking this opportunity to focus on healthy lifestyles and the Mediterranean diet, and to further the “Organic Revolution”. Educating colleagues and the public about the dangers of genetically-modified foods and nutrition has fueled his appreciation for organic and locally-grown ingredients and sustainable foods, which he has collectively brought to Pastina along with Chefs Michael Serdula and Richard Hanna.
Our resident Italian, Ray Greci, was born and raised in a small town in Torrice, Italy, two hours south of Rome, where he was first introduced to true authentic Italian cooking. It was in Italy growing up on over 50 acres of farm land, where he learned to appreciate fresh, simple, homemade food from his grandmother and mother. Upon his arrival in the United States, Ray grew up with a strong foundation of family and food. It is with that foundation where his passion and dedication comes from. He hand crafts daily from scratch all of the pasta, pizza dough, bread, and fresh mozzarella cheese at Pastina. To him, without that key element of handmade, fresh ingredients, Pastina’s dishes would lack authenticity. At Pastina, we use natural flours for our pizza and pasta dough. Our pizza oven and pasta machine are from Italy, The filing for our pastas features local produce and meats and USA grade prime fish and meat, and we also incorporate fresh herbs from our own on-site herb garden. “Our goal is to keep our recipes simple to bring true flavor and emulate true authentic Italian cooking from where I grew up in Italy.” Ray has traveled all over the U.S. to learn about pizza and dough crafting which he incorporates into his technique, he has taken countless hours of classes from a renounced culinary pizza chef in New York City, and has spent many hours researching and testing pizza dough in his brick oven in his backyard for many years. “This expertise and passion for food is evident in what we do at Pastina. We not only believe that fresh, local ingredients and handmade dishes set us apart, but it’s having passion for what we do so that we can share that experience with our guests that truly bring meaning to our dishes.