Corporate Executive Chef Vinnie Balducci

Corporate Executive Chef Vinnie Balducci shares his joys of cooking

Hungry like the Wolf

Story By Bailey Gilliam + Photography by Miami Chefs

Hailing from Buffalo, New York, Vinnie Balducci has navigated a multifaceted culinary journey to the South, where he now thrives at a company that emphasizes customer engagement and brand advocacy. Unlike traditional roles confined to the kitchen, Balducci engages directly with Sub-Zero, Wolf, and Cove’s clientele as a corporate chef, immersing them in the luxurious realm of high-end kitchen appliances. Through cooking demonstrations, classes and culinary promotions, he transforms inquisitive visitors into loyal patrons. This unique executive chef role demands not only culinary expertise but also an innate knack for sales and a charismatic presence, qualities Balducci certainly possesses. This month Balducci will showcase his culinary prowess by offering a cooking demonstration at the grand reopening of Billy Wood Appliance on Hilton Head.

Sub-Zero, Wolf,

A hustle-filled history 

Raised in Buffalo by a single mother juggling multiple jobs to sustain her family, Balducci’s childhood was marked by his mother’s lengthy work hours, which often left little opportunity for home-cooked meals. This led Balducci to gradually assume the role of family chef. His culinary journey took a more defined shape during his high school years when he enrolled in a vocational school that specialized in culinary arts. Initially indifferent to this path, Balducci soon discovered his innate talent for cooking and resolved to pursue a career. Starting at Salvatore’s Italian Gardens, a premier restaurant in Buffalo, he endeavored to absorb every nuance of the craft, despite his lack of formal culinary education. Balducci ultimately decided to refine his skills through formal training at the prestigious Le Cordon Bleu Culinary Institute of Culinary Arts in Pittsburgh.

“I went down there for a couple of years and had to get a job to pay for everyday things, so I started knocking on restaurant doors,” he said. “And a guy there wanted to open this small place for lunch and asked if I’d be willing to work on the weekends. I said, ‘heck yeah,’ and started working for him part-time.”

Following his graduation, Balducci made his way back to Salvatore’s in Buffalo, armed with an enhanced culinary toolkit. It wasn’t long before that previous part-time employer from Pittsburgh reached out with a compelling offer. The owner wanted to launch a full-service restaurant and envisioned Balducci at the helm.

The new venture was located in the bustling, historic Strip District of Pittsburgh. Balducci eagerly immersed himself in the local culture, sourcing ingredients directly from neighborhood butchers and fishmongers, a routine that brought him closer to the heart of the culinary scene. 

“I went there and started really just getting my hands deep into that culture – walking to the meat shop to get some provisions there and then going over to the seafood company and checking out the fresh catches and then walking these things back to my restaurant every day,” Balducci said “It was so cool. But again, small time and place, and even though it was full scale, I hit a plateau. I was looking for something bigger and faster.”

This desire led him to Atrias, also in Pittsburgh, where he was named executive chef. He thrived in the vibrant pace of a large kitchen, managing a team of 40-50 kitchen staff. The South eventually called to him following his mother’s relocation to Lake Wiley, South Carolina. Captivated by the Southern charm, Balducci moved to Charlotte, where he took the role of executive chef at the Carolina Golf & Country Club. He was struck by the warm, welcoming nature of the South. 

“The skies were blue; people actually say hello to you,” he said. “Southern people are genuine. They still may want to stab you or something, but they do it in such a great way. Bless your heart.” 

A hustle-filled future

After a decade at the country club, Balducci’s path took a serendipitous turn towards his current role at Sub-Zero, Wolf and Cove a twist of fate he humorously credits to an uncommon visit to LinkedIn. 

“I rarely log in, but there it was, a job posting for Sub-Zero Wolf,” Balducci said. “When I walked in for an interview, it was just so pretty and pleasant. Everything was shiny and didn’t smell like deep fryers. And several, several interviews later, they finally picked me. And that was eight years ago.”

In his role as a corporate chef, Balducci spends his days leading classes and demonstrations for Sub-Zero, Wolf and Cove’s clientele, who often invest significantly in their kitchens. His interactions have included meetings with high-profile figures, including the likes of Michael Jordan and other athletes.

“Some of the younger athletes come in with their mothers because they’re 20 years old,” he laughed. “And they just say ‘Hey chef, which one’s best for cooking chicken nuggets?’”

While celebrity encounters add a dash of excitement, Balducci emphasizes that the glamour of his position is balanced by the more mundane aspects of his job, such as extensive guest interactions and handling countless phone calls. He goes the extra mile by offering his personal cell phone number to clients, providing a direct line of support, which he finds immensely gratifying even when calls come in after-hours, like in the middle of Thanksgiving dinner. Despite the challenges, Balducci is driven by a passion for culinary arts and customer service. 

“If I didn’t love it so much, I wouldn’t do it,” he said.

Save the date

Billy Wood Appliance Grand Re-Opening 

When: 4:30-6:30 p.m., March 7

Where: 6 Marshland Road, Hilton Head Island  

Details: Join Billy Wood Appliance for its Hilton Head Island showroom grand re-opening. Check out the renovated building plus the new live Thermador Kitchen. There will be giveaways, cooking demonstrations from Sub-Zero Wolf, Lynx Grills and Thermador; and tasty bites from Board and Basket. 

“Food nostalgia is so special. Smells and the taste really just connect you. Have you ever smelled something that you haven’t smelled in a long time and say something like, ‘I haven’t smelled that since grandma’s house.’ Doesn’t that bring you back to such a happy time?”  — Vinnie Balducci, Sub-Zero, Wolf and Cove corporate chef

Easy chicken enchiladas

Balducci shares a simple yet delicious recipe for chicken enchiladas, perfect for any home cook looking to impress. Using the Wolf’s Dual Fuel Range, this dish embodies the ease and sophistication of cooking with top-tier appliances.

Easy chicken enchiladas


1 1/2 cups cooked, shredded chicken

2 cups easy enchilada sauce, divided

8 corn or flour tortillas (if using flour tortillas, microwave on a plate for 1 minutes, flipping halfway through until warm and pliable)

2 1/2 cups shredded Mexican-blend cheese, divided

Salt and pepper to taste

Optional toppings: Diced onions, chopped cilantro, sour cream, shredded lettuce, cotija cheese


[1] Heat oven to 350 degrees on convection mode.

[2] Mix shredded chicken, 1/4 cup enchilada sauce, salt and pepper in a bowl. Heat corn tortillas in the microwave (or microwave flour tortillas on a plate).

[3] Fill each tortilla with chicken mixture and shredded cheese. Roll tightly. Place seam side down in a large baking dish. Pour remaining enchilada sauce on top and add more cheese.

[4] Bake for 20 minutes until cheese is melted and bubbly. Garnish with desired toppings and serve.

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