A seasoned chef with a contagiously positive demeanor, Chef Francesca Penoncelli spreads joy through her beautifully crafted Italian cuisine at BiCE Ristorante, located in the heart of San Diego’s downtown Gaslamp Quarter. Chef Francesca is a critical piece of the BiCE team, serving as both sous and pastry chef of the renowned Italian restaurant.
Chef Francesca’s inspiration comes from a deep-rooted passion for food, a result of an Italian upbringing filled with warm memories of family dinners, picking fruit and vegetables from her grandmother’s garden and foraging for mushrooms and berries with her grandfather. Chef Francesca began working in the kitchen when she was just 14-years-old during holiday breaks from school, where she quickly picked up the basic skills she would later perfect during five years at culinary school in Piedmont, Italy.
After finishing culinary school, Chef Francesca went on to work in kitchens around the world, flourishing as a chef while embracing other cultures in France, South Korea, Lebanon, Dubai and throughout the United States. Now at BiCE Ristorante in San Diego, Chef Francesca has gained a following as the mastermind behind the restaurant’s Italian imported cheese bar and remarkable dessert menu. In the BiCE kitchen, Chef Francesca works closely with Chef Mario Cassineri, longtime friend and partner, to create fresh and flavorful dishes incorporating homemade pasta, sauces and more. Adding to her list of culinary accomplishments, Chef Francesca is also a certified Neapolitan Pizza maker by the American Delegation of the Associazione Vera Pizza Napoletana.
Since joining the BiCE San Diego team, Chef Francesca has had the honor of cooking at the James Beard Kitchen in New York City with Chef Mario. She also received the “Best Vegetarian Dish” honor at the 2013 Chef of Fest awards at the San Diego Bay Food & Wine Festival, and helped lead the restaurant to win the 2014 Gold Medallion award for “Best Italian Fine Dining” from the California Restaurant Association. When not crafting outstanding cheese plates, homemade pasta or delectable desserts, Chef Francesca enjoys traveling—her greatest passion second to cooking. In 2011, she took a five-month hiatus from BiCE to volunteer in Peru, accomplishing a life long dream of giving back while traveling.