Roger Thomas was raised with a deep respect and knowledge of food. His interest in cooking began both in his mother’s garden and his grandmother’s kitchen, and has since taken him on a delicious journey. At sixteen, Roger began as a dishwasher, working for the Piscazzi Family in Akron at their highly regarded restaurant, the Wine Merchant. Soon he found his way into the kitchen and began honing his skills under the tutelage of the celebrated Lucia Piscazzi. By age nineteen, Roger was managing the kitchen. Four years later he had the honor of preparing a private luncheon for James Beard. In 1987, Roger had the extraordinary opportunity to move to Europe to further his craft. In Paris he apprenticed with Chef Michel Pasquet and became a certified chef. In the Loire Valley, he studied under Chefs Pierre Langlois and Marc Meneau. Oyster farming on Ile de Ré and pastry study in London were some of his stops before family circumstances called him back to Ohio.
Upon his return, Roger was Executive Chef at the remarkably successful Ken Stewart’s Grille before opening his first restaurant, Sixteen Eighty. From there he joined the Downtown Akron Renaissance with his new location, Piatto. In preparation, Roger returned to Europe, this time to Italy. He was invited to spend time in the kitchen with Chef Michele Brogioni at Relais Chateaux il Falconiere. Chef Brogioni then joined Roger in Akron for the opening season of Piatto. In 2001 Roger and Piatto were awarded “Best Restaurant in Akron” and “Best Italian restaurant in Northeast Ohio” in Northern Ohio Live Magazine’s Reader’s Poll. In 2002, Piatto was awarded the prestigious “Best Restaurant in Northern Ohio” by the same magazine. Piatto is still the only Akron restaurant to achieve the title.
In 2005, Roger and Piatto were invited to move into the newly renovated Sheraton Suites Hotel in Cuyahoga Falls, and he eventually took over all of the food service operations of the hotel. After eight years and numerous awards, Roger left the Sheraton in 2014 to consult for Fiore’s Italian Restaurants. From there the journey took him to Beverly Hills CA at the 5-Star, 5-Diamond hotel L’Ermitage, where he continued to create modern European-inspired cuisine. Roger also enjoys working with, mentoring and training young people who share a common passion for cuisine, service and wine. His former apprentices can be found working in kitchens from South America, Europe and Asia to numerous highly regarded establishments in the United States.