Jeff Benjamin was bitten by the hospitality industry bug in his junior year of high school while working weekends as a busboy at a kosher catering hall in New Hyde Park, NY. The energy and pace of working in the dining room, coupled with meeting and serving all kinds of interesting guests, truly lit a fire in Benjamin. In 1987, he enrolled at UMass-Amherst and majored in Hospitality Business, affording him the opportunity to work in various front-of-the-house positions that further solidified his chosen career path.
Following graduation, Benjamin landed in New York City with food service industry giant, Aramark. He spent the better part of the next decade managing high-level corporate employees and executive dining operations. During his time in the Big Apple, Benjamin met and became friends with Chef Marc Vetri, a Philadelphia native who was also working in the city at the time. When Vetri decided to return to Philadelphia to open his own restaurant, he enlisted Benjamin to be his general manager.
In 1998, Vetri and Benjamin opened Vetri Ristorante, an, intimate fine dining restaurant in Philadelphia’s Center City neighborhood. With Marc’s bold, contemporary Italian cuisine and Jeff’s thoughtful service style and finely curated beverage program, Vetri was an instant hit that earned universal acclaim. Within two years of its debut, Vetri received the Philadelphia Inquirer's highest restaurant rating and Jeff was made a partner and this dynamic duo has been rolling along ever since.
With Vetri and Benjamin at the helm, the Vetri Family has grown to a total of eight critically lauded restaurants— Vetri, Osteria, Amis, Alla Spina, Lo Spiedo and Pizzeria Vetri (with locations in Philadelphia, Austin, TX and Washington, D.C.). Throughout the years, Benjamin’s attention to detail has demanded that all operations standards are met and remain intact, with his vigilant eye ensuring that the signature Vetri Family philosophy and experience is always upheld for guests and employees alike.
Outside of the restaurants, Benjamin is a committed philanthropist. In 2009, he and Vetri created the Vetri Community Partnership. The organization’s signature initiative, “Eatiquette,” is a school lunch improvement program that currently serves the Philadelphia and Austin areas. Additionally, Vetri and Benjamin are the founders of the “Great Chefs Event,” which brings together scores of the country’s greatest chefs to raise money and awareness for the pediatric cancer charity, Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation.
In March of 2015, Benjamin published his first book, “Front of the House: Restaurant Manners, Misbehaviors & Secret,” which pulls back the curtain to depict all of the behind-the-scenes details that go into an evening out, from staff training and systems to the proper way to deal with boorish over-imbibers, guests who steal tableware, and the inevitable amateur expert aka “wannabe sommelier.”
Benjamin lives in Cherry Hill, NJ, with his wife, Melissa, and their two daughters. When he’s not working, he can be found rooting for his children’s sports team, and his beloved Chicago Cubs and 76ers.