Joseph “Joe” C. Essa serves as President & CEO of the Thomas Keller Restaurant Group, helping to execute a vision and prepare the group for the years to come. A leading restaurant and hospitality professional, Essa brings extensive experience in directing and building global restaurant and related consumer product brands, including most recently, as President, CEO & Board Member of Wolfgang Puck Worldwide. Prior to that, he served as vice president of operations at TOSCORP, a Manhattan-based, fine-dining Italian restaurant group. Essa’s culinary experience also includes opening and operating two of his own restaurants: Assaggio in West Hartford, CT and Café Pasta in Greensboro, NC.
An expert in growth strategy providing firsthand knowledge and valuable insights to his teams, Essa is an innovative leader in growth strategy who prides himself in taking a collaborative approach to work culture.
For the past decade, Essa has served on the Board of Directors for the National Restaurant Association with roles as Treasurer and Vice Chair. In 2019, he was named its Chair. A Certified Public Accountant, Essa graduated from Boston College with a Bachelor of Science in accounting and finance.