PJ Calapa was born just a few miles from the Mexican border in the town of Brownsville, Texas, and was exposed to diverse cuisines at a young age. Food played a vital role in PJ’s early life, whether he was in the kitchen with his Grandmother, helping out at his Aunt’s gourmet grocery store, or spending time at his Grandfather’s wholesale fish business.
PJ attended Texas A&M University, simultaneously worked at Christopher’s World Grille, and fell in love with kitchen life. He enrolled at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York with hopes to take his cooking skills to the next level.
PJ moved to New York City and worked at highly lauded Bouley, Eleven Madison Park and Nobu 57. PJ’s natural affinity for the flavors and simplicity of Japanese food resulted in his quick promotion from lead line to Executive Sous Chef. In 2010, PJ met Chef Michael White and joined Altamarea Group’s opening Ai Fiori team as sous chef before being promoted to Executive Chef shortly thereafter. Currently, PJ oversees the kitchens at Ai Fiori and newly opened Costata as Executive Chef. A natural leader, PJ has brought together and sustained an impressive team of chefs underneath him.