On Tuesday evening, before a crowd of 200 well-heeled New Yorkers and elegant Italians in the food business, I gave my first-ever cooking demonstration (wearing cocktail attire, 4-inch heels and a necklace that weighed about 2 lbs, by the way).
For those of you who don’t follow me on social media, let me back up. Remember my submission to the Delverde Dish Your Blog recipe challenge in October – Pappardelle with Roasted Butternut Squash, Crispy Pancetta, Fried Sage and Mascarpone? Well, I was one of the two lucky winners! As part of my prize, I’m featured in a Delverde advertorial in the December issue of La Cucina Italiana Magazine.
In addition, I was invited to demonstrate my winning dish at La Cucina Italiana’s Holiday Party at the GE Monogram Design Center in NYC. Picture an open, modern space lined with brand-new, gleaming stainless steel GE Monogram appliances (yes, I did indeed shamelessly hint to the GE manager that I’m renovating a house and am in the market for a new stove!), flowing Chianti and Vermentino and trays of salty salumi, sharp cheeses and Sicilian sweets at every pass.
I’ve given many cooking classes before and most people who know me wouldn’t exactly describe me as a shrinking violet. However, despite the fact that this event seemed pretty much tailor-made for a person whose two greatest talents are cooking and talking, I was terrified to face this crowd. Once I got going, I felt terrific and focused my presentation on the people standing closest to me so that it felt more like an intimate cooking lesson. (And to my cousin who, a few days ago, teased that I would likely ramble on for so long that the event organizer would need to pipe in music to stop me like they do during long-winded Oscars acceptance speeches, you were WRONG!)
Chef Tagere Southwell, the Executive Chef at the GE Monogram Design Center did the heavy lifting, prepping all of the ingredients (wouldn’t that be a dream come true?) and cooking tasting portions of the winning dishes for the party-goers.
One of the other highlights of the event was meeting co-Dish Your Blog winners, Joe and Michele Becci, the brother-and-sister team behind the excellent blog, Our Italian Table. Their winning dish – Mezzi Rigatoni with Saffron Creme, Tuscan Kale and Crispy Prosciutto - is both earthy and elegant – perfect for winter entertaining. I honestly don’t know whether my nerves would have gotten the better of me if not for their humor and camaraderie. I look forward to our continued friendship and collaboration.
Buon appetito and grazie mille to Delverde and La Cucina Italiana from this unforgettable experience!