Franco Sampogna is the Chef of Jema’s restaurant. His cuisine focuses on the locally sourced ingredients of New York with an emphasis on simplicity, purity and seasonal flavors.
Born in Brazil, Franco Sampogna grew up in a multicultural environment thanks to his dad’s Italian origins. At the age of 17, he moved to Nice where he learned the basics of cooking at Villefranche-sur-Mer in the Alps at the restaurant La Mère Germaine.
He was a finalist in the ‘Saveurs Olives’ regional competition. Once he received his diploma, he discovered Michelin star restaurants by working alongside Chef Fabrice Vulin at La Chèvre d’Or, a two-Michelin star restaurant.
In 2011, his first Parisian venture was alongside Guy Savoy in his three Michelin star restaurant, who believes that cuisine is an art for transforming products with real history.
In 2012, he joined as one of the Chefs for the Alain Ducasse restaurant at Hôtel Plaza Athénée. It is there that he discovered the art of fine dining and working with the essential basics and simplicity of a product, allowing for its natural taste to be highlighted as opposed to using any additional ingredients.
In 2014, he took part in the reopening of the restaurant following the hotel’s closure for expansion, with the creation of its new concept based on the trilogy of fish, cereal and vegetables; unveiling the importance of eating more healthily whilst respecting the environment.
He then decided to enter the international San Pellegrino Young Chef 2015 competition, along with another 3621 candidates. Selected amongst ten French Chefs for the semi-finals at only 24 years of age, he won second place on February 10, 2015.
Sampogna met TV personality and inventor Joy Mangano while he was cooking on a private yatch. Having travelled to many countries, Sampogna was always drawn to the US and specifically NYC and knew that he would someday cook there to discover and be part of the culinary culture and unique energy that had captivated his attention for years.
Three years after meeting Mangano, he recieved a call from her that made his dream to come to America a reality. He enthusiastically accepted her offer to come open Jema in Huntington, with his handpicked team, on September 7th 2016. Sampogna was delighted to find top quality products and exceptional produce from local Long Island farms equal to the caliber of ingredients he used abroad, allowing him to create his unique and refined cuisine.