Sitting down at the kitchen table for a warm bowl of Chef Boyardee is a beloved tradition for families everywhere. Chef Boyardee pastas offer options that contain no artificial flavors, colors or preservatives. Those are just a few of the many reasons they’ve produced so many satisfied smiles over the years. But did you know those satisfied smiles were first seen in a restaurant in Cleveland owned by Chef Hector Boiardi himself?
Following his arrival in America in 1914, Hector Boiardi had a successful stint as the head chef at New York’s famous Plaza Hotel. Like many chefs, he dreamed of owning his own restaurant. With the help of his wife, Helen, Hector’s restaurant, Il Giardino d’Italia, opened its doors in 1924 in Cleveland, Ohio. The name means “Garden of Italy,” and Chef Hector’s garden was quickly in full bloom. Lines stretched out the door!
Chef Hector’s delicious combination of pasta and sauce was so popular among patrons that they began asking for his recipe. Chef Hector had a better idea. Why not sell a take-home version of his popular dishes? He began cleaning milk bottles and filling them with his pasta sauce, accompanied by uncooked pasta so patrons could enjoy these delicious dishes at home. From these humble beginnings came the Chef Boyardee pasta dishes still enjoyed today.
Within four years of the opening of Il Giardino d’Italia, Chef Hector realized he had a winning business proposition with an opportunity to serve not just the customers of his Cleveland restaurant. In 1928, Hector teamed up with his brothers Mario and Paul to found the Chef Boyardee company, using a phonetic spelling of the family’s last name to make it easier to pronounce. The Milton, Pa., facility that was opened nearly 90 years ago remains the home of Chef Boyardee today.
Although Il Giardino d’Italia has long since closed its doors, the pasta dishes first served there remain classics of Italian-American cuisine. With offerings like Beef Ravioli - a hearty combination of delicious meat, pasta and sauce as well as no artificial flavors, colors or preservatives, Chef's pastas are sure to remain family favorites for years to come.