Chef Mike Cordero’s Bronx Tale into Culinary Prominence

“5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Became a Chef”, and Chef Cordero’s story.

Tandy Lau
Authority Magazine
Published in
6 min readAug 28, 2018


A proud Cordero in front of his Rosslyn restaurant Barley Mac. (John Robinson Photography)

As a child, Mike Cordero aspired to be a chef. At age 13, he began his culinary career in a humble pizzeria a few streets down from Yankee Stadium. Fast forward to 2018, Cordero and his business partners are opening their 8th restaurant, Rockwood Sports Bar in Gainesville, Va. In addition, he is currently writing a cookbook.

The Bronx native is now a Northern Virginia-based chef, and rising culinary personality. His establishments include Barley Mac, Bronx Pizza and G.O.A.T. This past week, we reached out to Mr. Cordero and had him share some of his wisdom that lead him from the lower income neighborhoods of South Bronx to the posh kitchens of “NoVa”, the richest region in the United States.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! What inspired you to become a chef ?
When I began working in a local mom and pop pizza shop in the Bronx…I realized I love[d] to be in the kitchen. I started making jello and pizzas and really enjoyed it. That’s where I learned my passion for cooking.

What has your journey been like since first stepping foot in a kitchen?
I have been in the kitchen since I was a child. At the age of 13, I had my first job working in a pizza shop a couple of blocks from Yankee Stadium. I worked there at night and eventually became a pizza chef. Since then, I’ve had many work experiences in the restaurant industry under the guidance of many great chefs, including Vittorio DiVivo, a staple in the Italian restaurant business.

“At 18, I landed a position as a line cook at Sardi’s and moved my way through the ranks to become a headline cook working directly with Vincent Sardi Jr.

At 20, I had an opportunity to serve as the President of Operations for a pizza chain called Italian Delight. [With Italian Delight,] I opened my first restaurant, moved to Fairfax, Va. and took the chain across the country. After the company sold in the late ’80s, I partnered with master chef Sergio Castilloni to develop and open the first Bravo! Cucina Italiana. The Italian restaurant chain now includes 50 locations worldwide. In…