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Bert Cutino HONOREE 2012

Bert was born in Monterey on August 7, 1939, to Paul and Rose Cutino. His father, born in Sicily, came to this country as a young man, settled in Monterey, joined the local fishing industry and married Rose Aiello from Pittsburgh, California.

Bert was one of four children; his youngest sister Josephine resides in Roseville, California, and his brother Pete and sister Rosemary are both deceased.

He attended local schools, graduating from Monterey High and then Monterey Peninsula College with a degree in business. Through the years, he continued his education by going to night school taking courses in Business Management and Real Estate.

Bert and his lovely wife Bella, who he calls a Saint and who has always been very supportive of him, live in Carmel and have been married 39 years. They have two sons, Marc and Bart, two adorable grandchildren, granddaughter Bella Michele and grandson Antone "Tony" Michael. Their daughter Michele is deceased. Family values and traditions are important to them, and they enjoy having family and friends for traditional dinners and parties.

He started working at a very young age going fishing off and on with his dad. At the age of thirteen, he got a summer job at Holman's Ranch washing dishes for the restaurant; three meals a day for 30 cents an hour.

During his younger years, he worked in many restaurants as busboy, dishwasher, bar manager, operating manager, assistant manager, and Maitre d'. Wanting to learn to cook when he worked at Neptune's table, he would finish his working shift and go into the kitchen and work free with the chef while also taking a two-year apprenticeship program with the American Culinary Federation and graduated from that.

He went in the navy for two years as a hospital corpsman and he was stationed in Alameda, California, driving an ambulance with three days on and four days off. Bert decided navy pay of $70 per month wasn't much to live on so he got a job at the Fairmont Hotel in the kitchen working on his days off.

Later he swapped days with a fellow sailor allowing him to return to his hometown on weekends to work at Cerrito's restaurant. Eventually, after his time in the navy, he became the operational manager for a 5-unit restaurant group for several years before opening his own restaurant.

Bert bought his first house at the age of nineteen in Carmel. He says the reason he got it was because nobody else wanted it. He refinanced it, and later with his future partner Ted Balesteri started buying property.

The restaurant business was the real love of his life and in October of 1968, he and Ted bought the building the Sardine Factory is in and with Bert as chef and Ted as manager, the restaurant was created. The internationally famous Sardine Factory is now 43 years old. Through the years, they bought and sold many other restaurants including five Wendy's fast foods, the Butcher Shop Restaurant in Carmel, and the Rogue Restaurant on Cannery Row. They also bought several pieces of property on Cannery Row and eventually formed the Cannery Row Company, which still stands today.

Bert still attends seminars for chefs, and has also taught at seminars for chefs at cooking schools which he is involved with throughout the country. He also attends local, regional, and national restaurant shows often working with great chefs at events to keep up on his knowledge and expertise.

He has gained national recognition as the 1988 National Chef of the Year from the 20,000-member American Culinary Federation, where he was also Vice President of the organization. In 2006 Bert was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award by the American Academy of Chefs, which is the highest honor you can receive; as they are the premier honor society for the culinary profession in the United States. He was chairman of the MC from 1995-1999. He is also the recipient of numerous other awards, honors and certifications. He belongs to several Boards and organizations, has been featured in many articles, television and radio shows, and has cooked for many political and national known figures and leaders in government, local, regional, state and national.

His charity work is outstanding. A few of his favorites are:

  • Founder and Chairman of Meals on Wheels Culinary Classique, raising over $1,000,000 to date, feeding over 40,000 people each year. Founded and instituted Culinary Arts Program at the local community college.

  • Developed and co-founded the Drummond Culinary Academy at Rancho Cielo in Salinas for wayward young people who seek a career in the hospitality industry, from chefs to management raising $270,000 to date.

  • He also initiated a bill which funded $11,000,000 for the Culinary Arts Programs in community colleges in California. This bill gives financial aid to students in the culinary profession.

  • He is also Fundraiser Chairman for the Panetta Institute for Public Policy, which was founded by the honorable Leon Panetta. The event is sponsored by the ACF and Bert has chaired the event since its inception 12 years ago.

Bert is happy with his many accomplishments throughout his life, his family and his heritage. He certainly has much to be proud of.

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