For our monthly series “Meet The Kitchen Family,” we sat down with Niki Cianciotta from The Kitchen Denver to get to know her a bit better. Here’s what she had to say:
How long have you been with The Kitchen?
I am going on two years, just over a year and a half now.
And what lead you here?
I moved to Denver two and a half years ago. I’d walked by The Kitchen numerous times, and it always looked like such a great place. I was looking for a job, and I just happened to come across an ad on Craigslist. So, I immediately went for it, had an interview, and got the job.
You’re smiling. You must like it here?
I do like it here. I love it here, actually.
What is it specifically that makes you love working here?
It’s unlike any restaurant or place I’ve ever worked before. I really enjoy the whole family and community philosophy. Usually about this time in a restaurant I feel like, “Well, it’s time for me to move on.” But I don’t feel that way. I feel like I’m appreciated and supported by my fellow staff, and at the same time, I feel that I can help them. I just really enjoy it.
The word “collaboration” comes to mind.
Exactly. One part of the restaurant can’t function without the other. It’s nice that this restaurant emphasizes that.
I like to think of us as the welcoming committee to the restaurant. We’re the first people guests see when they walk in. I like to make sure that I acknowledge everyone that comes in and ask them about their day. Sometimes they’re having a horrible day and I always try to reassure them, “Well, you’re here. We’ll get you seated. Have a glass of wine, relax. We’re going to take good care of you.” I also like to follow up with them when they leave. It’ nice to think we can turn someone’s day around.
You’re also a dancer?
I’ve danced from the time I was two, through middle school, high school, and all the way into college. I was formally trained with the traditional ballet, tap, jazz techniques. I played sports through high school as well. I played lacrosse and volleyball. I like to consider myself an athlete who dances. We train like athletes and we have that same mentality. I’m definitely healthy. I eat. I work out. I balance everything.
What’s the largest audience you’ve ever performed in front of?
Almost twenty-thousand people.
Wow. What’s that like?
It’s honestly what I live for. It’s the most thrilling feeling in the entire world. It’s when I feel the most alive; like I’m part of a larger community.
How do family and friends fit into your life?
I am very family oriented, so moving out here was kind of a challenge. All of my friends, family, cousins, aunts, uncles…everybody is back home. But with my teammates here, its like I’ve cultivated this whole new friend and family group. It’s nice to know that I have people that love and care about me, and who I love and care about here in Denver.
You seem like a genuinely happy person.
Where do you see yourself going from here?
Right now, I’m along for the ride. I like to think that I have some control over what I’m doing, but I like where I’m at in this moment. I want to see where all of this leads.
Interview and profile photos by Veronika Sprinkel Ink.