While other children in her Louisiana neighborhood were watching Sesame Street, Elise Wiggins, Chef/Owner of Cattivella Wood-fired Italian restaurant, was watching episodes of Julia Child.
It was just one of the activities she engaged in faithfully as her intense love of all things culinary was, and what fueled her desire to become a chef and restaurateur from an early age. When did she know this was her calling?
“Probably since I was in my mother’s womb!” she says. “As a small child, I just had to be in the kitchen with my parents.”
Her “appetite” for cooking and feeding people goes all the way back to her days making chocolate chip cookies with her Mom.
“I learned early on that if you make really good food, you make a lot of people happy,” she says.
Today, visitors to Cattivella, located in Stapleton’s Eastbridge neighborhood, are extremely happy.
Wiggins opened Cattivella in April 2017 and patrons have been dining there in droves. It is Wiggins’ first restaurant (100% self-owned) and the response to her eclectic, upscale menu of Italian cuisine such as pastas, pizzas, seafood, and steak entrees has been overwhelmingly positive – making it one of the hottest establishments in Denver.
Her love of, and respect for, Italian food sends her to Italy each year to stay current with the region’s recipes and techniques. And she pays it forward. Because of her second passion, teaching, Cattivella also offers cooking classes.
It is a far cry from the days when she was urged to “go to college and get a real job,” which is what she did initially. But after graduating from college and working in corporate America, Wiggins finally embraced her “Cattivella” spirit and officially pursued a culinary career.
“Cattivella,” Italian for “spirited, mischievous young girl,” is a nod to Wiggins’ irrepressible spirit as a child in the kitchen, and the adult who made her way back there as an award-winning chef and entrepreneur.
A Stapleton resident herself (Central Park North neighborhood), Cattivella was one of the first independently owned bistros in the trendy Eastbridge neighborhood. She waited patiently for the right opportunity and space to become available.
“I always wanted to open my restaurant near my home, so the wait paid off.”
While Cattivella is warm and inviting, reservations are recommended.
For more information, or to make reservations, visit www.cattivelladenver.com.