Great Stories | by Taylor Hayes
Food blogger Salvatore (The Grubfather) DiBenedetto is a Long Island native with humble roots, starting off as a dishwasher in Italian kitchens.
Now, he’s a jet-setting entrepreneur.
His passion for food, along with his creative eye, has allowed him to become a widely recognized name in the hospitality industry, fueled by Instagram.
The popularity of the content from this 29-year-old from Hauppauge has attracted more than 194,000 Instagram followers.
DiBenedetto has the career any foodie dreams of. He travels to luxurious destinations regularly, always with drool-worthy itineraries sampling delicious fare.
His hard work and devotion to the food industry have put him in an elite class in the over-saturated food blogger industry.
None of this success happened overnight; it’s been a long time coming for DiBenedetto. Working his way through the restaurant industry, from dishwasher to server, The Grubfather recalls loving all of it, especially the connections he created with people.
“When you’re the middle piece between people and their food a lot can go right, and a lot can go wrong,” said DiBenedetto.
Growing up, food was something that brought DiBenedetto’s Sicilian family together, he said. His parents, who operated pina colada stands throughout New York City, met at the famous San Gennaro Festival in Little Italy.
“Service was engraved in me at a very young age,” he said.
His educational achievements are noteworthy, with degrees from Saint Leo University: international studies, history, and a minor in cultural anthropology.
“I put in the work,” he said. “I want to have a long-lasting effect on the hospitality industry by positively impacting the market.”
His creative approach to photographing food and destinations has helped many establishments prosper.
Yet after having dined at restaurants around the world, The Grubfather happily admits that he has a deep love for Locale, located in the heart of Patchogue, owned by his cousins, Ariana and Francesco Castelli.
“It feels like home for me. I really appreciate that their menu is inspired by Sicilian technique, style and flavor. It’s one of the quintessential Patchogue restaurants bringing together everything we love; great food, a bar scene and a social scene. It’s a hub.”
Another Patchogue spot that you can find DiBenedetto enjoying is Blue Point Brewing Company.
With the hospitality industry suffering right now due to COVID-19, DiBenedetto has been resilient in his approach to keeping the industry alive by promoting local takeout options.
He has partnered with Mario’s Pizzeria and Luigi’s Pizzeria to create a website called Pizza Cares, through which people can donate pizzas to any hospital on Long Island.
In a time where he could have lost everything due to COVID-19, he still has new promotional deals on the table. He’s hosting a river cruise with U-River Cruises next year. It starts in Frankfurt, Germany, and ends in Amsterdam.
“I curated the experiences with them. That’s one of my biggest collaborations so far,” DiBenedetto said.
DiBenedetto’s biggest career highlight thus far has been getting invited to an exclusive cookout at the Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman resort.
“Being flown out on a private jet to hang out with chef Eric Ripert, one of the best chefs in the world,” he said. “That whole experience was crazy.”
Inspired by Anthony Bourdain and Guy Fieri, The GrubFather is taking steps to make his dream of hosting his own food-based travel show a reality.
“I love Anthony’s depth and Guy’s fun spin on a travel show,” he said.
Taking a minute to think about what his recipe for success is, DiBenedetto responded with confidence, “number one is passion, number two is consistency and number three is character.”
Taylor Hayes is a 23-year-old journalism student at Suffolk County Community College. She lives in Bayport.