Prima Executive Chef / Owner
Peter Chastain joined Prima in 1999 as executive chef. In 2005, Chastain purchased the restaurant and wine retail store with his business partner John Rittmaster. Today Chastain continues Prima’s more than 34 year tradition of sharing the simple pleasures of the Italian table with his guests.
Chastain, an American citizen of the world, has extensive international travel and cooking experience which is readily apparent in the cuisine of Prima. He has won national acclaim for embracing the Italian passion for excellent ingredient quality, freshness, and flavor. Chastain embraces Italian sensibility with foods that are exquisitely pure and immaculately simple. His style relies upon flawless execution to showcase the quality and freshness of each carefully selected dish.
Having worked in Japan, Europe, and the United States, Chastain has extensive experience in all aspects of kitchen operations — from production to instruction. A native of Berkeley, California, he trained under several industry leaders in the San Francisco Bay Area and on the East Coast before residing in Japan for four years. Returning to the United States in the early eighties, Chastain studied under the late, renowned Ken Wolfe at Contra Costa College. Since then, he has taught classes on Italian cooking and culinary history in several private and public institutions. “I’ve been fortunate to have studied food and hospitality with amazingly generous and supportive teachers here and abroad. My goal is for that love and energy which was shared with me to come through in delicious food and a lively atmosphere at Prima,” says Chastain.
Prior to joining Prima, Chastain opened Mazzini Trattoria as executive chef, in Berkeley. He was also executive chef at Berkeley’s Ristorante Venezia for several years before serving as a consulting chef with Hilton International in Japan. (During Chastain’s previous sojourn in Japan, he was captivated by the Japanese attention to quality and detail and began to infuse those qualities into his work. He also met the love of his life whom he soon married.) He honed his craft and learned versatility in San Francisco Bay Area venues including Pacific Heights Bar and Grill, Janot’s, Clift Four Seasons Hotel, St. Francis Yacht Club and Paula Le Duc Fine Catering. In recent years on several stage tours to Barbaresco, Bologna, Florence, Marche, and Piemonte, Italy, Chastain has solidified the characteristic cooking style which is now the heart and soul of Prima.
Chastain resides in Oakland, California with his family.