Meet the Chef

Meet Chef Fernando Castro

The amazing thing about great food is the way it resonates with us on an almost spiritual level. It can convey bold new ideas, and even open doors in our minds to far away memories. Fernando’s cuisine is made to blow people’s minds. Through his cooking, Fernando hopes to delight guests with adventurous new flavors, or let them relive cherished memories with classic tastes we all know and love.


Chef Fernando has had a lot of jobs. He’s tried his hand at everything from construction to landscaping, but has always found his way back to his first love; cooking. When asked what keeps him coming back, Fernando simply stated, “the rush.”

Fernando loves the intensity of working in a bustling kitchen. The flood of tickets, the loud clanging of steel, and the powerful smell of so many rich flavors create an intoxicating blend of sensations, similar to the chef’s signature cioppino. This chaotic backdrop serves as the fountainhead of Fernando’s creative energy.


Fernando’s culinary career began in 1995, in the town of Columbus, Ohio. After three months of working as a dishwasher, his attention to detail and willingness to learn earned him a spot as a line cook. Fernando was still in his early teens at the time and, though he was excited, Fernando had no idea just how far he’d go. He had just embarked on a lifetime pursuit in the culinary arts.

Though he may have gotten his start as a line cook in Columbus, Fernando considers his time at Prep Kitchen to be his proving grounds, when he became a culinary artist in his own right. Before arriving at Prep Kitchen, Fernando was fairly confident in his abilities. He had worked at numerous restaurants and had years of experience under his belt, but, in reality, he had just begun to dip his toes in the water.

“I thought I knew how to cook, but Prep Kitchen is where I took my skills to the next level.”

Under the tutelage of legendary local chef Ryan Johnston, Fernando elevated his understanding of the culinary arts to a whole new level. Johnston had traveled the world in search of the freshest, boldest ingredients. He had garnered national headlines for his seasonal, scratch cooking. Simply put, he was at the top of his game, and now Fernando was at his side, soaking up every last insight like a sponge. Fernando spent his years under Johnston eagerly honing his skills, until it was time for him to go off and make it on his own.

Fernando’s time at Prep Kitchen had been a lesson in humility, one which he hasn’t forgotten. The young chef sees great value in remaining humble, and believes that you can learn from anyone. He has taken this philosophy with him on each successive step in his culinary journey, and today it serves as a guiding principle at Giaola Italian Kitchen, where Fernando currently serves as head chef.

When Fernando joined the Grand Restaurant Group as the head chef at Giaola Italian Kitchen, he knew he was working for a world-class organization. It wasn’t until a little bit later that he realized he was also working for a culinary family.

“If they need something, I’m there. If I need something, Chef Amy is there. We’re a family. It’s as simple as that.”

Fernando began work at Giaola in 2020, and has been a steadying influence in the kitchen as the restaurant grappled with the COVID-19 pandemic. As someone who loves a challenge, he sees the pandemic more as an opportunity to adapt and overcome, rather than a tragedy to endure. Through it all, his commitment to fine food and customer satisfaction has remained steadfast.