Chef Encounters: Chefs Mario Batali, Michael White, Nancy Silverton, and Marc Vetri

Butterscotch Budino with Maldon Sea Salt and Rosemary Pine Nut Cookies 
Butterscotch Budino with Maldon Sea Salt and Rosemary Pine Nut Cookies 
by Chef Nancy Silverton

I have been a very busy gypsy lately – hence the lack of regular posts in the last couple of weeks.  In between classes, putting together my menu project, and traveling for the Holidays – all of which I will have updates on very soon, I promise – I have also been continuing to do a lot of volunteering, and there was one experience in particular that I want to share with you.

A few weeks ago the James Beard Foundation held their Now That’s Italian  Annual Gala.  The slate of chefs cooking was pretty amazing. 
Marc Vetri of Philedelphia’s renowned Vetri Ristorante was in attendance. Chef Nancy Silverton, of La Brea Bakery in Los Angeles – where I started many mornings in LaLa Land – was also cooking.  With her was Matt Molina, the executive chef of the Osteria and Pizzeria Mozza, the restaurants Chef Silverton owns with Maria Batali and Joe Bastianich and two of my favorite spots in L.A.

w. Chef nancy Silverton

Continuing the night’s all-star line up was Chef Michael White of Osteria Morini— which I love for its unfussy, delicious Italian Food— and Marea and several other restaurants I hope to splurge on someday. 

Chef Michael White

Perhaps most exciting of all, Chef Maria Batali was also in the house.  I really don’t think I need to include credits here. The coolest part was that they were all there in the kitchen, and we volunteers got to plate right along side them. I’ll admit that I got a little nervous at one point, but on the whole it was just a lot of fun.  Despite their fame, these chefs seemed really cool and were great to work around. Chef Batali in particular had a wonderful, magnetic vibe about him.

Chef Mario Batali

The one bummer of the night was that Chef Vetri generously brought along copies of his new cookbook, Rustic Italian Food, and he signed copies for all of us volunteers. However, despite the fact that “To Nicole” was clearly written inside, someone absconded with my copy. *Sigh.* Thanks anyways, Chef.

The amazing food definitely made up for my missing cookbook. Chefs from Artichoke Basille's Pizza, Sullivan St. Bakery, Salumeria Rosi, SD26 , Nick and Toni's,  A Voce, and Guastavino’s provided food for the reception that preceded the main event and many of them allowed us volunteers to sample a thing or two. Sullivan St. Bakery was particularly entertaining to work with, and many thanks to Artichoke for providing generous amounts of snacks for hungry volunteers. 

Cauliflower Fritters 
Cauliflower Fritters by Artichoke

Canottini by Sullivan St. Bakery

The food kept coming once the dinner got underway. Chef Batali made sure to save a big plate of agnolotti for everyone working in the kitchen and it was truly delicious.  I can’t recall everything that was stuffed into the tiny pasta, but it was basically an explosion of umami topped with Castelmagno, an intensely flavorful cheese. Sooo Yummy!

Agnolotti dal Plin with Black Truffles and Castelmagno
Agnolotti dal Plin with Black Truffles and Castelmagno

This was truly an awesome experience.

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