Time Stops at the Dinner Table: Cookin’ Up Trouble with Steve Infante

By Sara Freitag

There’s a classic Italian saying that goes, “A tavola non s’invecchia,” and it means, “At the table, one does not grow old.”

Of course, this is not to be understood literally, but if we really unpack it, we get down to the idea that the hours and minutes spent around the table are priceless, invaluable, and absolutely worthwhile. That the second hand slows down while sitting and enjoying good food with those you love.

Steve Infante—a talented private chef, owner of Cookin’ Up Trouble, executive for a cloud-based software company, and fantastic dad to his two sons—grew up in the kitchen and holds many favorite memories centered around food. He reflects, “My mother was my inspiration. Friends and family would always find an angle to get a coveted seat at our dinner table.” So, of course it was inevitable that, throughout his entire adulthood, he’s continued sharing his passion for food and community around his own table.

When Infante’s not leading with his left brain as an executive at his day job, he’s exercising his creative right brain juices to deliver one-of-a-kind private dining experiences that can be compared to the novelty of going to a concert—in that the guests have no idea what the menu will be ahead of time, just like the artist’s chosen set list. His company, Cookin’ Up Trouble, is hired by private parties, whether the event be in a home or at a surprise venue—notifying guests of the address just 24 hours in advance and delivering an unforgettable evening of delicious chef chosen food (allergies and restrictions are taken into account, of course). He says, “In the dozens of events, I have never encountered a single guest that didn’t leave happy.”

That’s a fantastic track record.

Not only is the goal to create a splendid experience for guests, but Cookin’ Up Trouble provides a platform for up-and-coming chefs to “share their inspirations with the public,” says Infante. When chefs are first starting out, they often don’t have either the platform or the plates, glassware, equipment, etc. Cookin’ Up Trouble provides all of that. It’s a wonderful way to give back to the culinary community, providing space for others to learn and grow. 

At times, Infante also partners with an artist who will provide a live art experience during dinner—auctioning off the artwork at the end of the night for charity. He says, “Curating an incredibly unique experience, where talented artists come together to share their craft in a cohesive and highly aligned experience unlike anything else you will find, is my ultimate creative goal.” And in addition to providing pop-up events and private dining experiences, the talented chef and creative extraordinaire also offers cooking classes. Truly an incredible business model.

Not only does Infante keep busy in his paid career endeavors, but he generously finds time to give of his talents by serving as a board member at The Art of Giving Foundation and donating private chef dinners to silent auctions and other charities. 

So, how does he do it all? How does he run a successful private chef business, manage his full-time career as an executive, give of his time to charities and non-profits, and successfully parent his two sons as a single dad? Infante says he’s always filled his plate a little too full. His mom used to tell him, “Steve, you are burning the candle at both ends!” But he says it’s just part of his personality and that if he finds himself with down time, he easily gets depressed. And while he used to come home from work to be with his sons, they’re now 20 and 17, meaning they spend most of their time with friends—so he pours his heart and soul into his cooking, which luckily serves as both a passion and a business. Regardless, throughout all of his endeavors, Infante says, “[My sons] are my reason…no doubt.”

And he says that what he does ultimately stems from a place of passion:

“I lost both parents in the last four years and when I think back on the best memories, a lot of them had food either at the center or somehow involved in that memory. So, what fuels me? Passion for life, for family, for friends, and for food. And whenever I can bring some or all of those passions together, I do. So I guess in the end, I’ve brought my passions together so I can accomplish multiple things at once.” 

And isn’t that what we all aspire to? Props to you, Steve, for realizing what makes you tick and making that happen.  

Recent Posts