Chefs Cody Hogan from Lidia's Kansas City
, Fortunato Nicotra from Felidia New York
, and executive chef for Barilla America Lorenzo Boni were assisted by event hosts Lidia Bastianich
and her son, Joe. They stood in front of the room attempting to show patrons how to tackle the recipes above the din of the excitable crowd. Thankfully, the prep work was already done as volunteers seared, sautéed, and served. Jermann, Canella, and Pio Cesare provided wine pairings for each course. (Daringly, yet successfully, a Barolo was poured to complement the ahi.)
Many, including our table's student chef, felt the recipes were a bit too involved for novices, but thankfully all the prep work was done ahead of time and the instructions -- though often straying from the demonstrations onstage -- were also provided in print.
Not everything edible was table made, however: Academia Barilla, for example, offered hors d'oeuvres of peeled cherry tomatoes shaded by a slice of Pecorino Gran Cru and a drizzle of 8-year-old balsamic in extra virgin olive oil. Biltmore's executive chef, Philippe Ruiz, shared an air-light goat cheese terrine stained with black olive tapenade with a roasted Italian sausage and micro greens to prepare palates, and the resort's pastry chef, Oliver Rodriguez, ended the meal on a sweet note with a pistachio brownie napoleon seemingly inspired by a cartoon caterpillar.
Guests were also given signed copies of Lidia Bastianich's hardcover cookbook Lidia Cooks from the Heart of Italy, along with insulated Barilla tote bags filled with various pastas, a spaghetti storage tin, and an herb mix.