Chef Frank A. Ruta began cooking alongside his mother and grandmother early in life.
Frank began formal training at the American Culinary Federation's Pittsburgh chapter. After graduating second in his class in 1978, he apprenticed at the Lemon Tree Restaurant in McKeesport, PA. His first formal position was sauce cook at the William Penn Hotel in Pittsburgh. After one year, Frank became a chef at Lincoln Hills Country Club in Irwin, Pennsylvania.
The White House hired Frank as assistant chef in 1979. By 1982, Frank had progressed to the dual positions of personal lunch and dinner chef to the Reagan and Bush families and executive Sous Chef.
Frank resigned at The White House in 1987 to accept a chef position at Andrea restaurant, a two-star Michelin restaurant, in Merano, Italy where he studied under Andreus Helrigl for 18 months.
At the personal request of Nancy Reagan, Frank returned to the White House in 1988 as executive Sous Chef. He stayed through the remainder of the Reagan administration and 15 months into the Bush presidency.
In 1991, Frank moved on to the world-renowned Le Pavillon, as Sous Chef, under Yannick Cam. Upon the closing of Le Pavillon, Frank took the grill chef position at the Ritz-Carlton in Pentagon City, Arlington, Virginia, for one year before teaming up with Cam again at Yannick's in Alexandria, Virginia.
Eighteen months later, Frank joined the Capital Management Group to take his first executive chef position at The River Club, an upscale supper-club, in Georgetown. The restaurant quickly became known for serious fine-dining, and was Frank's first opportunity to introduce his own menus.
Palena opened in 2000. Since it's opening, Palena has consistently earned rave reviews and ratings from critics and diners alike. Palena continues to grow, and a major expansion, new kitchen and Market are slated to open in August 2010.
Accolades Frank has received over the years include:
Best Chef Food and Wine Magazine 2001
Restaurateurs of the Year Washingtonian Magazine 2002
(Along with Ann Amernick, then co-owner and pastry chef)
Chef of the Year The Washington City Paper 2007
Best Chef Mid-Atlantic James Beard Foundation 2007