Sam Baxter • Executive Chef
Chef Sam Baxter, a native Angeleno, began his career with Chef Michael Cimarusti at Water Grill after graduating from Le Cordon Bleu Cooking School in Pasadena. Cimarusti tapped Baxter to join him as part of the opening crew of Providence in 2005. Ever since, he quickly worked his way up the ranks to Chef de Cuisine at the venerable Los Angeles restaurant. Baxter’s passion for and knowledge of seafood is evident in his deft and nuanced style of cooking. At Connie and Ted’s, Chef Baxter looks to demonstrate that the freshest seafood needs only a light touch and the simplest of the preparations to make outstanding food. On his time off, you can find Sam flinging himself down very large mountains on his bike.
Matthew De Marte • General Manager
Part of the 3rd generation in a family of chefs and restaurateurs in Chicago, Matthew began his service training at age 12 under the strict and watchful guidance of Josephine Argenteri (affectionately known as “Babe”) – head waitress at his uncle’s restaurant for over 40 years. Since landing in Los Angeles in 1992, Matthew has been fortunate to work with Karen MacNeil (CIA at Graystone & The Restaurant at the Getty Center) and Guy Fieri (Louise’s Trattoria). In 2005, Matthew began working with Michael Cimarusti and Donato Poto at Providence. When the time came to choose a General Manager for their new project, Connie and Ted’s, the Providence team chose Matthew. Always up for a challenge, Matthew graciously accepted. In his spare time, Matthew can often be found either at Dodgers Stadium, sitting pool-side in Palm Springs, or eating way too much food at his favorite Korean BBQ restaurant.
Michael Cimarusti • Chef and Partner
Michael Cimarusti, is chef and owner of critically acclaimed Providence, in Los Angeles, where his cooking celebrates his love and passion for all things seafood. Michael’s new venture, Connie and Ted’s, named in honor of his grandparents, is a testament to the broad range of influences that have shaped his imagination. Michael is a staunch advocate for sustainable fishing practices and marine life conservation, earning him widespread respect among his peers and patrons. He also loves a really good California IPA.
Craig Nickoloff • Partner
Craig Nickoloff forms the bridge between the multi-million-dollar Claim Jumper restaurant chain that he founded with his father, Carl Nickoloff, in 1977, and the thriving Nick’s restaurant group he began building with his son, Nick Nickoloff, thirty years later.
His counterbalance to work has always been fishing the Pacific. In a conversation about fishing with award-winning restaurateurs Michael Cimarusti and Donato Poto, the trio discovered they had similar plans for a casual seafood restaurant, and joined forces. Their vision has turned into reality with Connie and Ted’s.
Donato Poto • Partner
Donato Poto is well known in Los Angeles for his consummate professionalism as co-owner and General Manager of Providence. His love for fine food, his warm personality, and his attention to detail, resonates in every aspect of his new venture Connie and Ted’s. Poto has called Los Angeles home since finding himself captivated by the growing restaurant scene almost twenty years ago. In 2005, Poto partnered with his friend, Chef Michael Cimarusti, in their first restaurant venture, Providence. Since it’s inception, the restaurant has been lauded as one of the most influential restaurants in the US. With Connie and Ted’s, Poto looks forward to the change of pace and a more casual atmosphere. Although the tone of Connie and Ted’s will be more relaxed, Poto vows to never relax his high standards of hospitality.