Spiro Koulouris, General Manager
Spiro was born and raised in East Hartford, CT. His culinary traditions stem from his tight-knit family; his parents, having emigrated from the islands of Corfu and Rhodes in Greece, have kept him steeped in the traditions of good, fresh, seasonal food. His culinary heritage is what has motivated him throughout his hospitality career. In addition to Spiro’s travels to Greece, his explorations through San Francisco and California’s wine country have inspired him to search out the best in local, farm fresh cuisine. This is what brings him to Firebox.
Shortly after graduating from Central Connecticut State University with a degree in fine arts, print making and painting, Spiro was employed at the LeWitt Collection in Chester, CT working as an assistant for artist Sol LeWitt. In late 2000, while still working at The LeWitt Collection, Spiro picked up two shifts a week as a bar-back at a traditional Irish pub called The Half Door.
These two bar backing shifts quickly became bartending shifts. The bartending shifts quickly became management shifts. By 2003, Spiro was a full-time manager, and found himself with a rewarding career in the hospitality business. While immersing himself in the world of culinary arts, wine, and good beer, Spiro’s management and passion aided in The Half Door’s evolution from an Irish pub to a European beer bar and Irish gastro-pub. During this time the business enjoyed several recognition awards such as Best Pub, Best Bar, Best Pub Food, and Best Bottle Beer Selection.
For ten years Spiro worked his way up through the restaurant ranks from part time bar-back to his present position managing Firebox. He’s the kind of manager who knows not only how to provide exceptional service and atmosphere but also how to orchestrate a world-class selection of cocktails and artisanal brews. His passion for quality local, farm-fresh food and drink, combined with his strong work ethic and friendly neighborhood reputation are some of the strengths Spiro brings to Firebox.
Spiro lives in Wethersfield with his wife Julia, who is also in the local hospitality industry, along with their two dogs.
Sean Farrell, Executive Chef
Even though Sean is a native of Bristol, CT, his culinary tour has been anything but local. After graduating from the esteemed Institute of Culinary Education (ICE) in Manhattan in 2000, Sean stayed onboard in New York and joined the team at March, a restaurant headed up by well-known chef Wayne Nish. When the opportunity to work for the world-famous Alain Ducasse presented itself, Sean took a position at Mix, a new project for the four-star chef, immersing himself fully in the intricacies of New York fine dining. Eventually, the Pacific beckoned, and Sean found himself leaving one culinary capital for another: San Francisco. Cooking at such well-known restaurants as Farrallon and Jack Falstaff, a restaurant which is part of the Plumpjack group, Sean learned firsthand the true essence of “California cuisine,” and the importance of locality and seasonality in both sourcing and preparing ingredients. He has brought this mentality and philosophy back with him to Firebox, where specializing in Connecticut products has been a priority since day one.
Cathy Amarante, Event Coordinator/ Assistant Manager
For Connecticut native Cathy Amarante, the journey toward a career in food and wine was anything but traditional, beginning with a degree in Communications & Media from Western New England University. During her studies, Cathy fueled her passion for food by serving, bartending and then cooking in local restaurants. After relocating to Boston in 2008, it was there that she decided to complete a certificate of Culinary Arts at Le Cordon Bleu in Cambridge, MA. Directly following culinary school, Cathy worked in kitchens around Boston and then in the Hartford area. Years later, back in CT, she began a catering business where she was able to be a personal chef in homes across the state, catering small parties and holding cooking tutorials for adults- and kids, too!
In her current role as Assistant Manager and Event Coordinator for Firebox, Cathy combines her love for food and wine with her passion for planning events-creating ease for our guests, especially those looking to plan private parties. While balancing her career at Firebox with catering occasional small parties on the side, she remains passionately committed to learning and teaching other members of the Firebox team.
John Lagosz Sinclair, Sous Chef
Edward A. Jones III, Sous Chef
Cary Wheaton, Executive Director
Cary Wheaton is the Executive Director of Billings Forge Community Works, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization located in the Frog Hollow neighborhood of Hartford with a mission of transforming lives through job creation, improved housing, farm to table programming, and arts and enrichment opportunities. Cary oversees Firebox Restaurant, the Kitchen at Billings Forge, The Studio, The Farmers Market, Garden, and the Billings Forge residences. Cary has created and owned five award-winning restaurants in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Previously, she oversaw Nuestra Culinary Ventures in Boston, a shared-use commercial kitchen that was the home to more than 60 start-up food businesses. Cary has a long history of business development and operations consulting to small non-profits, specializing on organizations in the culinary field.
In 2006, she relocated to Connecticut to assist the Melville Charitable Trust with opening of their farm-to-table restaurant Firebox. Cary is the mother of a beautiful 16 year old daughter, Mei Clare.