ERIC KLEINMAN, Co-Chef/Owner, ‘inoteca and ‘inoteca liquori
Little did Eric Kleinman know that his high school job at Foot Locker would lead him to an executive chef position at a highly anticipated Italian restaurant. A New York City native, Kleinman was selling sneakers when he helped the owner of Wildlife, an Upper West Side bar and grill, pick out a pair. Solely based on Kleinman’s engaging demeanor, the restaurateur offered the teenager a job on the spot as a dishwasher and busboy.

After pursuing an engineering degree at Rochester Institute of Technology, Kleinman realized that he missed the restaurant industry. He moved back to New York City, and returned to Wildlife, where he developed a friendship with the chef that sparked his interest in cooking.

In 1994, Kleinman moved to San Francisco where he met his mentor, Gordon Drysdale, while working at the Café Museo at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Kleinman proceeded to hone basic cooking techniques working under Gordon for the next five years at his Bay area restaurants. He eventually took an opening sous chef position at Gordon’s House of Fine Eats.

Returning to New York City in 1999, Kleinman got in touch with Jason Denton, who he met through friends of Denton’s uncle, San Francisco restaurateur Harry Denton. Jason Denton offered Kleinman a sous chef position at Lupa Osteria shortly after it opened. After two years at Lupa, Kleinman partnered with Jason Denton and his brother Joe Denton in 2003 to open ‘inoteca on the Lower East Side. The restaurant was an instant success and continues to be popular five years later. At ‘inoteca, Kleinman prepares classic wine bar cuisine with a menu of simple and inspired Italian dishes.