The head chef at a renowned Grand Central restaurant, who had been missing since the weekend, was found dead in Queens, police confirmed Thursday.
The body of 33-year-old Andrea Zamperoni was found Wednesday night on the first floor of what cops described as a "lodge" on 77th Street. There was no visible sign of trauma on his body, police said.
Neighbors described the place as a hotel, with one saying she regularly sees "odd" people coming and going from it, including "a lot of prostitution, a lot of drugs." She said cops swarmed the scene Wednesday.
In an strange turn, police say a naked woman was inside the hotel room where Zamperoni was found.
Police questioned the woman Wednesday night at the hotel but said that at this point, she is not considered a suspect in Zamperoni's death.
Another person who was staying at the hotel said he heard everything go down firsthand.
"The walls are paper-thin and you can hear plenty of people yelling at each other," said Avery Mullen. "You hear the prostitutes and hear people's demands for what they want."
Coworkers were immediately uneasy when head chef Zamperoni did not show up for his shift at Cipriani Dolci on Monday. According to one friend and coworker at the eatery, Zamperoni hasn’t unexpectedly missed a day of work in a decade.
“A good friend, family member, coworker is now gone and missing, of course I can’t help but think the worst,” said assistant chef Ignacio Albo, adding Zamperoni was “incredibly professional … he could have just long his leg and he would still come in to work.”
The 33-year-old from Italy had finished his shift Saturday night and went home to his apartment on 74th in Flushing, Queens. According to Albo, Zamperoni’s roommate said he stepped outside, got into a car and had not been seen or heard from since.
The hotel where his body was found is around the block from Zamperoni's apartment. Requests for comment to the hotel's management were not returned.
His mother in Italy sounded the alarm when Zamperoni missed their daily phone call on Sunday. His brother was supposed to fly in to help search for him.
A representative from the restaurant group also confirmed his death to News 4 Thursday afternoon, telling us his brother and restaurant family are overcome with grief.
A medical examiner will determine the cause of death.