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Humans of Delbarton: Resident District Manager of SAGE Dining, James DeSilvestri
Meghan Podimsky

Delbarton is filled with dedicated individuals, from students, faculty and staff, to parents and alumni, and each person has his or her unique Delbarton Experience. In order to bring these stories to life, we are pleased to introduce the first Humans of Delbarton feature of 2023 and our fourth of this school year: meet Resident District Manager of SAGE Dining, James DeSilvestri.

DeSilvestri was born and raised in Matawan, NJ with his Italian-American family. His grandmother is from Sicily and she was one of the first women to major in chemistry at Fordham. His grandfather is from Abruzzi and won a gold medal in hurdles under Mussolini. “I have always wanted to cook and have been fascinated by the hospitality industry. I watched my grandmother create these fantastic Italian feasts for our family when I was a child and loved how these meals brought us all together,” he says.

DeSilverstri received his Bachelor of Science from Fairfield University in Marketing with a concentration in Interpersonal Marketing Communications and he has an Associate Degree in Occupational Studies in Culinary Arts from the Culinary Institute of America (aka the CIA) in Hyde Park, NY. Before joining SAGE’s team, DeSilvestri owned and operated Red Sky Restaurant, an upscale seafood bistro in Keyport, NJ. “ It was unfortunately closed down due to damage by Hurricane Sandy,’ he noted. Because of the restaurant's closure in 2013, a friend recommended joining the SAGE Dining team at Delbarton. “I think the school does a fantastic job of creating a sense of comradery among all members of the community.  I remember for SAGE’s 25th anniversary all the students in the dining room singing Happy Birthday to SAGE! That was a fun moment for our team here,” he gushed.

DeSilversti recently returned to Delbarton after spending a few years working with Newark Academy. “Sometimes opportunities are just too good to pass up!  I was able to return to a place that is special to me, but this time in a larger capacity as your Resident District Manager.” As the Resident District Manager, DeSilvestri is responsible for creating menus and ensuring proper food technique is maintained and followed in the kitchen. “We want to make sure we provide something for everybody when we craft our menus.”

When it comes to Delbarton students’ appetites, DeSilvestri has his work cut out for him as he keeps up with more than 600 students. “ To put it into perspective, we have about the same amount of students at Newark Academy. When we do teriyaki chicken thighs at Newark Academy, we cook 200 pounds of chicken thighs. At Delbarton, we cook 440 pounds!” If you thought 440 pounds of chicken is a lot, DeSilestri reports that 100 pounds of rice is made to accompany that teriyaki chicken, and 25 gallons of house-made lemonade is served on any given service day. For the every-popular Taco Tuesday serve-yourself bar where students add their favorite toppings, SAGE Dining prepares a whopping 1,600 tacos. “Remember the game Hungry Hungry Hippos? I joke of course. The boys have healthy appetites here,” he laughs.

DeSilversti likes to play tennis, try new restaurants and hang out with his niece and nephew in his free time. “I like to take walks with my incredibly loyal dog, Beurre Blanc,” he said. (Editor’s note: Beurre blanc sauce is a classic French butter sauce made with shallots and white wine.)

The Delbarton community agrees that we are so fortunate to have James DeSilvestri at the helm of our Dining Hall. Not only is DeSilvestri a talented chef and manager and an all-around terrific person; we are very lucky to have him! Enjoy some photos of James and the rest of SAGE Dining in action...