Meet the Team

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Salvatore (Sal) Rizzo

Owner - CEO

Salvatore Rizzo is the owner and CEO of the school as well as host and on-camera personality. Since April 2008, when he acquired De Gustibus, he’s continued to secure world-class chefs, wine experts, and specialty vendors season after season, whether it’s culinary icons (like Marcus Samuelsson, Marc Forgione, Jacques Pepin, Carla Hall, and Missy Robbins) or promoting rising star chefs at restaurants like Llama Inn, Adda, and King. He’s the mastermind behind our fundraising dinner, including the father-and-son evening with Jean-Georges and Cedric Vongerichten, which raised more than $17,000 for the Food Dreams Foundation.

When he’s not hosting classes at the school, Sal can be found participating in national conversations about the restaurant industry as an authority on food, drink, and New York chefs and eateries. He’s a frequent interviewee, panelist and moderator, and has participated in the New York City Wine & Food Festival, the Newport Mansions Wine & Food Festival, and the Palm Desert Food & Wine Festival. He’s appeared on ABC, Fox News, and Heritage Radio and has been a judge for the James Beard Awards for many years. He's also a proud member of the City Harvest Food Council and on the board of Spoons Across America, a not-for-profit dedicated to educating children, teachers, and families about the benefits of healthy eating. 

For speaking engagements, contact James Oliver Cury at

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Gary Portuesi

Co-Owner & Travel Director 

Gary fell in love with food and travel at an early age when he and his family made yearly trips to Italy. In 2002, he launched Authentic Sicily, which has since expanded to become Authentic Italy in 2014, and Authentic Explorations in 2020—which offers high-end, custom, culinary-themed trips to Europe, Canada, the Caribbean and the US. Gary spent more than 20 years at American Express where he spearheaded some of their most successful programs including the launch of Platinum Card Fine Hotels & Resorts and the Centurion Lounges. He is also a certified wine expert. Gary has been selected as a Condé Nast Traveler Top Travel Specialist and made it to the Travel + Leisure's A-List in 2020—marking five years in a row.

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Emmy Jang

Director of Events

Emmy joined De Gustibus in the fall of 2011 as office manager and now manages all events. She plans the class schedule working directly with chefs, wine directors, gourmet food purveyors, and food personalities. She is passionate about food, loves dining out, loves to travel, glamping and hiking.

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Jairo Ducos

Director of Operations

Jairo Ducos joined the De Gustibus team in the spring of 2019 as an intern. He quickly became a valued kitchen assistant who moved up the ranks with his can-do attitude, which helped ensure a great experience for chefs and guests. In his current role — Director of Operations — he oversees the kitchen staff and manages the setup and execution of all the events. A passionate food lover and excellent home cook, Jairo earned a bachelor's degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management from the New York City College of Technology and graduated with honors. He's also a loving husband and father to three wonderful children. We adore the big, bright smile he brings to work every day — and he bakes a mean chocolate chip cookie.

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James Oliver Cury

Director of Communications

James came to De Gustibus in 2018 after more than a decade in food journalism, having been food editor at Time Out New York, executive editor at Epicurious, and digital director at DETAILS magazine. He has been a judge at the Culinary Institute of America, the Jack Daniels World Barbecue Championship, and Food Network's "Iron Chef" show. He's written for dozens of magazines and websites including Travel & Leisure, Esquire, Food & Wine, Every Day with Rachael Ray, and The New York Times. At De Gustibus, he's in charge of marketing, social media, and newsletters.