Early life, family, educational background
Amanda Freitag was born on 11 May 1972, in New Jersey, USA, to Paul and Kathleen Freitag; and she has two brothers, Jason and Justin. Paul and Kathleen were always very busy, so Amanda and her brothers either had to eat heated-up pre-made frozen food, or cook for themselves. This is where Amanda’s passion for food and cooking began, eventually becoming a noted chef and TV celebrity.
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Amanda matriculated in 1987 from Cedar Grove High School (then known as Memorial High School). While she was still in school, her home economics teacher, Joan Levine, advised Amanda to study at the Culinary Institute of America; from which Amanda graduated in 1989.
Amanda then worked under the guidance of Jean-Georges Vongerichten as a rotissiere and garde manger of Vong, in New York City. Jean-Georges taught Amanda to combine Southeast Asian ingredients and flavors with French techniques.
In 1994, Amanda left Vong to cook under Diane Forley at Verbena, and rapidly became the restaurant’s chef de cuisine. From Diane, Amanda learnt the importance of cooking with organic ingredients, she also introduced Amanda to the greenmarket in Union Square. In 1999, Amanda decided to travel the world, mainly Italy and France, so she could learn more about the culinary industry by visiting restaurants and exploring markets.
Amanda worked under chef Alain Passard at L’Arpège, in 1999 – there is no food left overnight, this further fuelled Amanda’s love for fresh ingredients, it also brought about her love of Mediterranean dishes.
In 2003, along with restaurateur Godfrey Polistina, Amanda opened the restaurant Cesca Enoteca & Trattoria in the Upper West Side, New York, but she also worked at some of the most elite restaurants, including alongside Tom Valenti at Cesca as his chef de cuisine – “The New York Times” rated Amanda two stars for her cooking. At Gusto in the West Village, Amanda was their executive chef, for which she received both praise and criticism for her work.
In late 2007, Jimmy Bradley was searching for a new chef and Amanda was looking for an opportunity to express her versatility in her cooking, so Jimmy hired Amanda to be the new chef at The Harrison. The two chefs shared an interest in straightforward, yet bold cooking. From when Amanda joined The Harrison team, the restaurant has received numerous accolades, both locally and nationally; these include being featured in “Time Out New York” magazine and “Forbes Life” magazine, as well as receiving a two-star rating from “The New York Times.”
On 16 October 2009, Amanda was a guest on “The Martha Stewart Show,” on which she featured her recipes for yoghurt panna cotta, and celery root and ginger gold apple soup.
On 3 September 2010, “The New York Times” announced that Amanda would be leaving The Harrison, and owner Jimmy Bradley would return as chef. On season two of “Iron Chef America,” in the “Battle: King Crab” episode, Amanda competed against Bobby Flay who won with a score of 50 – Amanda lost by only one point in the ‘taste’ category. Amanda continued judging on “Chopped.”
On 15 April 2012, Amanda appeared in season four’s “Iron Chef American” in an episode entitled, “Against the Tide,” alongside a “Chopped” champion, Madison Cowman. In “Battle: Kale,” Amanda served as Madison’s sous chef in the episode. On 7 August 2012, it was announced that Amanda would return as a contestant, in season five of “The Next Iron Chef.” In the finale on 23 December, Amanda lost to Alexandra Guarnaschelli.
In 2014, Amanda was appointed as executive chef of the re-opened Empire Diner restaurant, in Manhattan, New York. The restaurant was originally built in the mid-1940s, and has become an artist’s nexus and a city fixture.
The restaurant had closed down in 2010, with another restaurant, The Highlander, opening up in the same space later that year, however, it was unfortunately not popular and quickly forced to close its doors. Amanda decided to re-open the Empire Diner restaurant in January 2014, but ended up leaving her position in July 2015.
In 2015, Amanda appeared on “Iron Chef America Countdown,” “Unique Eats,” and even started her own show, “The Kitchen.” On 22 May 2015, Amanda and Ty Pennington began co-hosting the Food Network’s “American Diner Revival,” which follows Ty and Amanda making-over the menus and interiors of diners.
On 29 September 2015, Amanda published her first cookbook, “The Chef Next Door: a Pro Chefs Recipes for Fun, Fearless Home Cooking.”
Amanda’s love for food began at a young age and her cooking was praised and supported by her parents, grandparents and economics high school teacher. It is assumed that Amanda is close to her grandmother, Margaret Grazioli, because she posted a photo of her on Instagram on Women’s Day.
The exact timeline of their relationship is unknown, but Amanda has been involved with an ultrasound technician named Raphael, for six years.
On 28 August 2012, Amanda tweeted a birthday wish and dedicated it to her husband. The unidentified user who she mentioned, appreciated her as his wife. In June 2015, Amanda posted a heart with the LGBT+ colors on her Instagram. This raised suspicion – is she part of the LGBT+ community, or an ally? Sources indicate that she is not, and never has been married.
Hobbies, favorite things and interesting facts
As a child, Amanda did not only love cooking food but also eating. She is considered to have been chubby as a child, but she later lost weight and obtained the slim build she still has today. Amanda still finds comfort in food, especially junk food such as burgers and pasta.
— Amanda Freitag (@amandafreitag) January 10, 2020
Unlike most chefs, Amanda hates some foods which are commonly considered delicacies, including monkfish liver and sea urchin. Amanda is rumored to be close to her nieces, Lizzie and Meagan, as she has previously said in an interview that they are her favorite people to cook for.
Amanda has dark blonde hair and brown eyes, and is of North-American ethnicity. She stands at 5ft 10ins (1.8m) and has a slim figure.
Net worth and salary
Amanda’s net worth is estimated at over $3 million as of early 2020, and her income is around $1 million annually. Amanda earns her money through her many successful shows and from her cookbooks and recipes.