Gabriella Mannino Tomasello started her culinary career at the age of eight by working in her father’s first restaurant, Pizzatown USA, in Atco, Camden County.
Today, she runs a popular cannoli food truck and just opened Mannino’s Cannoli Express, a beautiful shop on Bellevue Ave. in Hammonton devoted to cannoli, gelato, espresso, and other sweet treats, all by the age of 26.
Her three food trucks have been voted in the top 101 food trucks in America, 2016-2018; voted fans’ food truck choice award, 2017-2018; and voted top 5 NJ heartland trucks, 2017-2018.
Tomasello credits her success to hard work, a strong family background as entrepreneurs and chefs, and the education she received at Atlantic Cape Community College.
Tomasello had a lot of excellent options to continue her education after graduating from high school, but she was also practical and motivated to meet her goal of running her own business.
“I couldn’t see paying all that money for the Culinary Institute of America or the Art Institute of Philadelphia when the culinary program at Atlantic Cape Community College gave me the save education and no debt,” Tomasello said. “I make the exact same ganache that the graduates from those schools make and I was able to save enough money to start my own business.”
Talent – and a passion for the restaurant industry – runs in the family. Her father’s pizzeria, Pizzeria Mannino’s in Pitman, was named the best pizzeria in Gloucester County by NJ.com. In addition, he has a restaurant, Mannino’s Cucina Italiana, also in Pitman.
Tomasello continues to produce the cookies she used to bake with her Nonna, and sells them in her restaurant. She’s even getting her daughters, Ava, six, and Amelia, three, into the act by cooking with them and sharing her passion for making delicious food, exactly as she was introduced to the business by her family.
“Classes at Atlantic Cape prepared me to run my own business. I learned a lot from my father, but at the college, I was able to work at Careme’s, the student-run restaurant. I worked front of the house and back of the house. I learned to blend the skills necessary for each in order to run my own business.”
“Atlantic Cape really prioritized practical experience, and I valued that. I grew up cooking with my father and my Nonna. I wanted a program that provided more production time and hands-on experiences.”
But beyond the excellent culinary education and practical knowledge she received, Tomasello appreciates the atmosphere on the campus.
“Atlantic Cape was like a family, among the students and the faculty,” she said. “I was nine months pregnant at the end of my program and I needed to go to doctor appointments and that took me out of class. I was at risk of failing, right at the end, but Chef Kelly McClay, the Dean of Students, understood my situation. She saw how hard I had worked and she helped to make sure that I would not be penalized for missing class for doctor appointments. That’s the kind of people that make Atlantic Cape special.”
Tomasello is an enthusiastic supporter of Atlantic Cape Community College, and she shares her positive experience with the school far and wide.
“I call it ‘the talk,” Tomasello said. “And I tell people what a good investment Atlantic Cape is.”
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