Anthony Gropp is Head Chef and Co-Owner of Petite VIOLETTe Restaurant and Catering.
He is a second-generation chef, taking over the Head Chef duties when his father Wolfgang Gropp retired.
Anthony literally grew up at Petite Auberge (the original Petite Violette restaurant), as he was two years old when his father and uncle opened the restaurant, in 1974. He “helped in the kitchen” (as he remembers it, or “played in the kitchen” as his parents probably remember it) from the time he was eight years old.
When Anthony was 14 years old, he was working at the restaurant regularly and running a station in the kitchen. It was then that he thought to himself, “Hey, I’m pretty good at this, and I can make a living doing it. It’s something I’d kind of like to do.”
Though it would seem natural for his father to want him to take over as Head Chef someday, Wolfgang didn’t push him into it, and in fact, he actually encouraged Anthony to go to school and become anything he desired. But by the time Anthony was in his 20s, he knew he had a passion for cooking, and only for cooking. He has been working full-time in the Petite Auberge kitchen since 1992, going on a quarter of a century there.
Once Anthony’s decision was made to start a lifelong career as a chef, his father trained him in all things cooking, particularly his love for creating sauces. Wolfgang had received training in the culinary arts as an apprentice and chef at some of the finest hotels and restaurants in Europe, including in Paris, at The Savoy Hotel in London, and Lake Louise Inn in Canada.
When Wolfgang trained in The Savoy Hotel in London, he apprenticed under several chefs including some who were trained by Auguste Escoffier, the father of modern French cooking. According to Wikipedia, Auguste is a legendary figure among chefs and gourmets, and he was one of the most important leaders in the development of modern French cuisine. Anthony adds, “Auguste Escoffier took "chef’ from servant position to the modern respected profession it is today.”
All of the training that Escoffier gave to Wolfgang, Wolfgang imparted upon Anthony. When asked what Anthony’s favorite part of his chosen profession is, he responds, “I love the adrenaline rush when we have a full house, plus banquets and catering orders to fulfill, and I push myself, and the teamwork is just clicking, and we reap the reward of a seemingly impossible task all miraculously coming together. You’ve got to be a little nuts to work this job, and times like that are proof of this statement. But that’s when I feel the most alive with passion for my profession.”
Anthony says he and his father were always very close, especially in the kitchen, while his older brother Michael, who is General Manager and Co-Owner of Petite Violette, was closer to their mother, Ilse. Michael has a management degree and took over the business side of the restaurant when his uncle, Helmut Bittl, retired.
The pair of brothers, Anthony and Michael, now runs Petite Violette together, and they stay closely involved with the American Culinary Federation. Anthony invites members of the Federation, as well as Le Cordon Bleu students, to come to Petite Violette to work and do externships and apprenticeships.
Several have gone on to become successful chefs at other restaurants, and one went on to own a local food truck, Scratch Cuisine, which the Gropps purchased from him to run in tandem with Petite Violette.
Between giving back to culinary students and cultivating relationships with loyal clientele for the last quarter of a century, Anthony Gropp has certainly “gotten good at this and made a living out of it”!