The Perfect Partnership
Native New Yorker John Caiola has been in the culinary field his entire life. His diverse culinary history is reflected in his new business, Gelato Dolceria. Together with his business partner Mike Paletta, they bring a sweet taste of Italy to downtown Haddonfield. Stepping inside the historic building transports you to an Italian city, complete with old world décor, festive music and service with a warm smile. Their twenty year friendship began when their daughters were attending the same school and each bring their unique skill sets “to the table”. Mike's focus is more on business operations. John directs his attention to the menu selections, his favorite edible delight, desserts.
Chef John Caiola recalls watching popular cooking shows featuring Julia Child and “The Galloping Gourmet” at home with his mother during his childhood on Long Island. John's father worked as a history teacher and his mother worked part-time in real estate, providing time for her and John to share time in the kitchen. By the time John reached high school, he was confident about crafting his own creations. He was even kicked out of cooking class after clashing with a home economics teacher who dared to alter his simmering sauce!
After working in a variety of restaurants, getting hands-on experience in the kitchen, he made a decision to pursue a career in the culinary arts, seeking out a program that awarded a degree upon completion. John attended the prestigious Johnson and Wales University, graduating in 1985. He was accepted into the Hyatt Hotel Corporation's inaugural Sous-Chef training program, being chosen amongst hundreds of applicants, and landing his first position at The Grand Hyatt in New York City.
Chef Caiola was employed by large corporations like Hyatt and Wyndham over the next several years, giving him an absolute plethora of experiences both in and out of the kitchen. He even provided meals for celebrities like Leona Helmsley who resided in the Park Lane Hotel. He held Executive Sous-Chef positions in the Park Lane and Tudor hotels. After the Tudor Hotel underwent a major sixty million dollar renovation, Chef Caiola was promoted to Executive Chef, making him one of the youngest executive chefs at a hotel in Manhattan. Working for hotels gave John opportunities in Arizona and Philadelphia as well. His notable list of celebrity clients have included Henry Kissinger, Bill Clinton, Donald Trump, George Bush and Alan Greenspan.
Chef Caiola had visions of branching out beyond the hotel structure and continued to expand his culinary skills in a number of creative ways. In 2002, he launched “What's For Dinner....It's a Mystery”, a business he ran for ten years. This innovative concept provided both entertainment and food for customers who participated by playing interactive roles that were written by John's brother, Joe. John would prepare dinner in the host's kitchen and emcee the party, playing the role of the “detective”. John is married to Karen Caiola and has two daughters.
Originally from Philadelphia, Mike Paletta now lives in New Jersey. With years of experience as a wholesale distributor, Mike has opened many business, cultivating each of them from the ground up.
John describes his view on culinary as “fluid” and “evolving” and aligned with Mike's business background, their progressive visions come to life. With the broad skill set and rich experience these partners hold, its no wonder their eager customers are waiting outside for Gelato Dolceria to open each day.