To enhance and educate the palate with the freshest ingredients and flavors. We strive to surprise and excite each guest with personal care and service.
Chef Matthew Varga, Executive Chef
Chef Varga is from Connecticut, where he would spend his childhood days crabbing, fishing, and soaking in the aromas of his family’s busy kitchen. He began his culinary training by taking food and baking classes in high school, and started his first job in a restaurant at the age of 16. Chef Varga attended Johnson & Wales University, where he received his associate degree in culinary arts in 2003, and his bachelor’s degree in food service management in 2005.
Chef Varga began working at Gracie’s in 2007 and was promoted to Executive Chef in 2010. Since then, Gracie’s has won the AAA four-diamond award five years straight and received three Diner’s Choice awards from Open Table. Chef Varga has been featured in Art Culinaire and as a guest chef for the Democratic Governors Association Taste of America gala.
Ellen Slattery, Proprietor
Ellen grew up cooking in her family kitchen, where she developed a passion for feeding people. She carried this passion from her home kitchen, through a four-year psychology degree, then to culinary school at Johnson & Wales University. She opened Gracie’s on New Year’s Eve in 1998. At Gracie’s, she is known for building a team that is excited about culinary artistry, wowing guests, and championing locally sourced food. Most nights, she can be found working the line, chatting with guests, or encouraging her staff to “wish it, dream it, do it.”
In 2012, she opened Ellie’s Bakery as an extension of the bread program at Gracie’s. With Ellie’s Bakery, Ellen and her team strive each day to stand out in the community as a loyal, soulful, nourishing neighborhood bakery.
Chef Melissa Denmark
Executive Pastry Chef
Chef Denmark grew up in Columbia, Maryland, with a cookbook in one hand, and a whisk in the other. Her love of baking led her to Johnson & Wales University, where she graduated summa cum laude in 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in baking and pastry arts. That same year, Denmark assumed the role of Executive Pastry Chef at Gracie’s, and in 2012, developed the bread and pastry program at Ellie’s Bakery.
Chef Denmark draws her inspiration from travel, childhood memories, and unusual ingredients to create savory-sweet, unique desserts. She was named as one of the 50 best new pastry chefs in the country by Food & Wine magazine in 2012, and in 2014 was named a Rising Star in Coastal New England by the culinary magazine, Starchefs. In 2015 Melissa received the Local Hero award from Edible Rhody. Zagat announced Melissa as the 2017 recipient of the 30 Under 30 award.
Wine & Beverage Director
Alan Freudeman has 20 years of experience in the restaurant industry. He began working in restaurants while in college for theatre in Ohio. He tended a bar and managed restaurants in Cleveland, and moved to Rhode Island in 2006 to attend Johnson & Wales University. While at JWU, Alan worked as a server and line cook at Gracie’s. In 2010, he assumed the role of Chef de Cuisine at Ama’s in Providence.
Alan returned to Gracie’s in 2013, where his knowledge and passion for wine led him to serve as our staff wine educator, where he expanded the wine program to showcase unique wines from the regional United States and established a scholarship fund for teammates to take the Introductory Sommelier course and exam. In 2015, he stepped into the position of Wine & Beverage director.
Front of the House Manager
Anat Sagi truly has a lifetime’s worth of wisdom in this industry. As early as age 9, she started answering phones and taking reservations at her aunt and uncle’s French restaurant in Brookline, MA, where her passion for hospitality began to bloom. In the 37 years that followed, Anat has amassed experience in almost every corner of the restaurant industry, from being a server and running events to assisting with marketing and the opening of new establishments. Anat joined the Gracie’s team in 2015 as a server, and now assumes the role of Gracie’s Front of House Manager, a position that it has been a true pleasure to watch her grow into.
Born in Israel, Anat’s passion for people also derives from her cultural background, where people are naturally warm, giving, and present and the table is the perfect place around which to engage. Anat seeks to develop these values, which she holds dear to this industry, within her service team, so that they in turn may enhance the guest experience with personalized care and connection.
Anat’s commitment to growth, to cultivating relationships, to expanding her and her team’s knowledge and skill sets, and to elevating operations to consistently greater heights makes her the perfect person to lead the charge as our Front of House Manager!
Private Events Director
Kendal Fitzsimmons is our link to local culture. She grew up on the south coast of Massachusetts and has never found herself away from the ocean for long. This gives her an inside edge for event planning in the Ocean State. In fact, she has been coordinating plans, parties, and vacations as long as she can recall.
Kendal graduated with a degree in Public Relations from the University of Rhode Island and worked at the Hyatt Regency Newport as their events coordinator for four years.
Her passion for detail and love of food makes Gracie’s the ideal place for Kendal to achieve her goal of exceeding guest’s expectations and bringing each client’s unique vision to life.
Kelly, a born and raised Rhode Islander, has over 10 years of experience working in the restaurants that make Rhode Island food and culture so great. She joined the Gracie’s team in 2015 as the Office Manager, responsible for the day to day tasks like answering phones and taking care of guest reservations. This position quickly grew and evolved into something far greater than answering phones and ordering office supplies. Kelly is, among many other things, the staff mom. She sews buttons onto shirts, hems pants, treats ink stained ties, mends wounds, lifts us up when we are down, keeps us organized, efficient, and graceful. She has taken something ordinary and made it extraordinary.