It didn't take long after Tara started her apprenticeship at Blue Hill at Stone Barns for her and Michael to catch each other’s eyes. While working together there, the couple helped the restaurant achieve accolades from all over the world, including an award for Outstanding Restaurant in America from the James Beard Foundation, and a ranking on the San Pellegrino Top 50 Restaurants in the World list.
Michael and Tara, who were married in July of 2015, found that their complementary skills formed the complete package in terms of running a restaurant and set off to open one of their own in the fall of 2016. Michael’s talent as a chef and skillful ability to oversee the back of house, paired with Tara’s leadership capabilities in the front of house, make for an excellent combination that is fueled by a shared passion for world-class cuisine and service.
The proud parents to two dogs, Abby and Louie, are thrilled to be setting down roots in Michael’s hometown of St. Louis with their first venture together, Vicia.
Chef Michael Gallina
Inspired by his grandfather’s curiosity for cooking and culture, Michael flew to San Francisco -- his St. Louis Cardinals’ cap tucked securely in his suitcase -- to begin his own food-founded journey of the world. After attending the California Culinary Academy, he found a home in Campton Place's four-star kitchen under Chef Daniel Humm, and when Humm moved to New York City to take over Eleven Madison Park, Michael joined his team as sous chef. On days off, he would frequent Dan Barber's acclaimed West Village restaurant Blue Hill, and in 2007 he made the move to join Barber there. After helping run the kitchen at Blue Hill for four years, Michael took on the role of chef de cuisine at Blue Hill at Stone Barns in 2011. Encouraged by Barber to see the world before taking the reigns, he spent time in some of the top kitchens in Sweden and Spain, including Faviken and Quique Dacosta. There, he was inspired by how they utilized nature through foraging, and appreciated how vegetables were treated with the same attention as the choicest proteins. That education only continued during his time at BHSB, and his passion for harvesting food with his cooks, working closely with plant breeders and farmers on developing improved flavor in crops, and creating a cuisine that supports the entire farm and landscape around him, is forever intertwined for him with what occurs inside the kitchen.
His thirst for experimentation with ingredients – fueled by holidays at grandpa’s house, cooking Yorkshire pudding until the smoke detectors sent the fire fighters to their door – helped him earn BHSB accolades including Outstanding Restaurant in America from the James Beard Foundation, and a ranking on the San Pellegrino Top 50 Restaurants in the World list.
As Executive Chef at Vicia, he’s thrilled to bring a taste of the world he’s explored back home to the people of St. Louis. Michael sources the ingredients everyday, works alongside his team of sous chefs and cooks, and creates dishes that continually change and evolve with the seasons.
Tara Gallina, General Manager
Tara has a gift for making people feel welcome, and from a young age has loved bringing her family and friends together around the table. She turned that talent into a career path in 2010, when she left a stable human resources job in Florida to attend the International Culinary Center (ICC) in New York City. After graduating in 2010, she stayed on to coordinate cooking workshops with top chefs for ICC, but felt a fascination with the way in which food was grown rising up within. When a posting for the F. A. R. M. S. apprenticeship program at Blue Hill Stone Barns caught her eye, she jumped on the next train to Tarrytown and never looked back. During the six months Tara spent working on the farm, she received a sustainable agriculture education and a crash course in fine dining service, which completely changed the way she thought about growing and serving food. While at BHSB, Tara mastered all front-of-house positions, becoming lead bartender and one of the most senior service captains, where each night she created a truly unique and flawless dining experience for each and every guest.
Tara is enthusiastically invested in changing the way we think about food, and has found that getting to know the farmers, breeders, and fishermen helped her become a captivating storyteller. As she continues to develop relationships with her new St. Louis community, those stories are growing and shaping the service experience at Vicia.
At Vicia, Tara runs the front-of-house, putting her detail-oriented, educational-driven leadership skills to good use as General Manager. She oversees a team of service staff, runs the wine and beverage program, and handles all restaurant operations.