A Baltimore native, chef Damon Wise traces his earliest culinary influences to childhood summers spent on the shores of the Chesapeake Bay. He learned to fish with his grandfather, a lifelong waterman, and looked on as his grandmother prepared home-cooked meals with their catch-of-the-day and fresh garden produce. It was a ritual that began Wise’s passion for good food and was his first exposure to the idea of cooking with seasonal ingredients.
In the early years of his career, Wise honed his culinary skills working at some of the nation’s top restaurants, including five-star luxury resort The Greenbrier in West Virginia, and Georges Perrier’s Le Bec Fin in Philadelphia. Afterwards, Wise landed in New York for a position at Tom Colicchio's Gramercy Tavern before moving on to cook under Laurent Tourondel at Cello and Christian Delouvier at Lespinasse. To build on his solid foundation of French cooking technique, Wise then traveled to France to refine his skills as a stagiaire at celebrated Paris restaurants Taillevent and Apicius.
Upon returning to New York, he accepted the position of chef de cuisine at Colicchio's newly opened Craft. Wise worked alongside Colicchio to capture the flavors of the seasons with locally sourced pristine ingredients as the basis for the bold, clean dishes that characterized the cooking at Craft. After three years as chef de cuisine, Wise was promoted to executive chef of Craft Restaurants in 2007, a position he held for nearly five years. During that time, Wise was at the forefront of an emerging scene of pop-up restaurants with Damon: Frugal Friday, a temporary restaurant in the private dining room adjacent to Craft serving small plates, snacks and beverages at recession-friendly prices. The project earned three stars from New York Magazine.
During his tenure at Craft, Wise oversaw the openings of Craftbar in New York and Craft restaurants in Los Angeles, Dallas and Atlanta. In 2010, Wise oversaw the transition of Craftsteak in New York to Colicchio & Sons, earning the restaurant three stars in The New York Times.