Showing posts with label Italian American Chefs. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Italian American Chefs. Show all posts

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Making Italian Knot Cookies -

It's been a family affair here lately at Italian American Girl. Last week my mother made Italian Stuffoli, this week I took the opportunity to film my sister, Maria and niece making Italian knot cookies. We only do these projects once a year and I wanted to share the process with you.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Italian American, Serena Palumbo Competes in THE NEXT FOOD NETWORK STAR

Food Network’s number one series, The Next Food Network Star, returns this June 6th with the most exciting and intense season to date. Shot in Los Angeles on a brand-new studio set, season six follows 12 hopefuls competing for the ultimate dream job: his or her own Food Network show.

This time around one of the contestants is one of our very own. Serena Palumbo, 31 a New York corporate attorney and former ballerina. She taught herself how to prepare food with unusual ingredients while growing up in southern Italy. She currently hosts an online instructional cooking show, “Cooking in Manhattan,” on YouTube and believes the cooking process should be simple and healthy.

Italian American celebrity chef, Giada De Laurentiis, kicks off the show with a two-hour premiere Sunday, June 6th at 9pm ET/PT as finalists get a taste of Hollywood with a trip to Paramount Studios and a six-course lunch for L.A.’s biggest celebrity chef, Wolfgang Puck.

We sat down with Serena to find out more about her Italian American life and culinary expertise.

You’ve been selected as a contender for the Food Network’s very successful show, “THE NEXT FOOD NETWORK STAR,” how big of an honor is this for you?

Being selected to be one of the 12 finalists on season six of The Next Food Network Star was a big honor! I have been a fan of the show since I moved from Italy to the US in 2004 and I followed every season. Just the fact of meeting Bobby Flay, Susie Fogelson and Bob Tuschman, the selection committee is fantastic and this season is really full of surprises, starting with the fact that it takes place in Los Angeles! It is a very exciting adventure and I cannot wait to see the premiere Sunday June 6th at 9PM ET/PT.

First things first! Where in Italy is your family from and could you tell us a little bit about your cultural/ culinary background?

I was born near Salerno, in Southern Italy and I have spent all my summers on the Amalfi Coast – there is no better culinary background, believe me, being Italian and from the South! I do not have a culinary training, as a matter of fact I am an attorney in New York and I am the in-house counsel for one of the biggest Italian Banks operating in North America. But I have seen all the women in my family cooking all my life and they taught me pretty much everything I know about food. Add to the family tradition the fact that I love to travel and eat new dishes and I am pretty fearless when it comes to experimenting in the kitchen and you understand why I am not afraid of the competition!

As an Italian American, do you feel a strong connection to the culinary arts and do you think there’s a fine distinction between Italian and Italian American cooking?

The common denominator is the same flavor combination. I really love Italian food in every way shape or form. My culture defines me so deeply that it really does not matter who is cooking and whether the person lives in Italy or learned from their “nonna” [grandma] like me: if there is respect for the flavors and the ingredients of Italian cuisine, I will surely appreciate the dish!

On the show, what types of dishes do you think you’ll be motivated to create? Italian dishes or do you have a love for other cultural flavors?

My inspiration is usually the Mediterranean diet. I am very fond of Italian flavors but I also love experimenting, so I will probably come up with dishes that have Spanish, Greek and Moroccan influences as well. I have a couple of aces up my sleeve - I am going to make my mother proud of all the hours we spent together in the kitchen when I was a child.

As you progress your culinary career, do you feel that expressing your known cultural background as an Italian American is an important factor to your success?

Being Italian or Italian American in the culinary world means having discerning taste, refined palate and respect for the ingredients and the traditions. I will definitely use these aspects to prove that my skills, innate in an Italian, can overcome the lack of proper culinary education: what I cannot do with knife skills I can do with the taste buds!

With the success of other celebrity Italian American chefs from Food Network, what skills and characteristics will make you stand out?

Cooking is the most important outlet for my creativity. I am a corporate attorney by trade and as such, I do not really have a creative job (actually it would not be appropriate to be creative in my day job), so I convey all my creativity in the kitchen. I love to create new recipes, sometimes tailored to my friends’ requests and needs, and I love to teach people how to cook. I started my very own homemade webisodes about homemade food called “Cooking in Manhattan” and I cannot describe how great it is when one of my viewers drops me a line to say that the recipe was a success!

Who is your favorite celebrity Italian American chef and why?

My favorite Italian American Chefs are Giada De Laurentiis because she is the “Grace Kelly” of Italian food and Mario Batali because his food is honest, rustic and delicious!

Lastly, the show; THE NEXT FOOD NETWORK STAR premieres this summer, June 6th on Food Network—why should the Italian American audience watch? What can they expect from you as their representing Italian American?

I hope the Italian American community will root for me because I am Italian, of course, but also because I believe I represent the real hard-working Italians and Italian Americans that succeed on the basis of their own merits and strength. These are the real Italian and Italian Americans, strong willed, creative, hardworking and charming people who are pursuing their American dream. Sadly they have not been very well represented on television recently. I want to show America what we are really made of!

I would like to thank the Food Network and Serena for this interview! Grazie Serena!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Italian Host of Brindiamo TV, Ornella Fado Celebrates Italian Heritage Month With New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg.

Ornella Fado, host of "Brindiamo TV" on PBS, celebrated Italian Heritage Month at Gracie Mansion this past week with New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg. Here was the Mayor's Intro:

"One of the best parts of our Italian Heritage Reception is always the food and drink. This year we’ve been fortunate to receive a number of delicious donations from around the city. Here to tell us more about them is a real expert on the subject. She is the host of Brindiamo! – the hit show on NYC-TV about Italian food in New York City.Please welcome Ornella Fado!"

Ornella continues to represent our Italian community with her impressive cultural show airing on PBS/NYC Television every Saturday at 10:30 am and prime time at 9:30 p.m.

Ornella is currently working on the launch of her new magazine. We wish her tanti auguri! Visit Ornella's site for up to date appearances and show schedules.

(Photo Credit:Stephen Shadrach)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Italian American Chef & Restauranteur, GUY ARNONE Shares A Family Recipe & Talks Reality....

La Porchetta

This September marks the twelve years since I first stepped foot onto Italian soil as a teenager looking to find my heritage. Little did I know that over a decade later I would just be scratching the surface.

As the years passed I learned to speak the language and I opened my own Italian restaurant that is your typical red sauce joint with big pasta bowls and loud Italian music. My trip to Italy as a teen was quickly becoming just something I did a while back. A collection of fun stories to tell the customers over dessert.

Then about a year ago, around the same time I was celebrating the eleventh year since I had first gone to Italy, the economy took a dive and took many of my customers with it. The realization set in that I was in danger of losing my restaurant and I would have to cut back to make ends meet. How would I stretch out what I had? How do I compete with the big chain restaurants? How would I survive?

Sitting in the empty dining room after closing I racked my brain for ideas. Looking at the black and white picture of my long lost Italian family I began to imagine them and the romantic stories I had told time and time again to my guests. Stories of turn of the century poverty and the food that sustained them through the decades. That's when it hit me. So much of our heritage has been centered around survival during tough times. Now in some poetic way my own personal survival would depend on me learning about the one thing I had been chasing down my entire life. My roots.

The last year has been the toughest and most exciting year of my professional life. By turning to my friends and family both in Italy and in here the states I have been reminded of the basic principles of my Italian heritage in relation to cooking; Don't waste anything, and don't take short cuts.

Over the past months I have poured over cookbooks new and old. I've made countless calls to Italy with recipe questions. I grew my own vegetable garden. I've even began learning to butcher the cuts of meat I serve to cut costs and maximize quality.

These ups and downs have pushed me to better understand my roots as an Italian American and as a chef. I have a new found pride in my work as an extension of who I am and an appreciation for those who over the many years have brought a perfection to the traditions born from struggle. To be Italian is to understand and appreciate the craft of the artisan!

So here I am a year later. I'm at work on my day off trying out another recipe that is new to me but has been around for centuries. I share my triumphs as well as my failures with my customers who now wait patiently for my next lesson in Italian Culinary Tradition. And you know what? The effort has paid off. Now I have an edge that the other restaurants near me just don't have. The customers know that what comes out of my kitchen has my passion behind it, and that my friends is very specifically ITALIAN!

One dish that has worked well for me over the past few months is La Porchetta! This is a relatively inexpensive dish that is delicious in both flavor and presentation.

Arnone's Porchetta

5 lbs Pork Loin- butterflied (have your butcher do this)
6 feet butchers twine. (ask your butcher if they've got any in the back. Usually they're pretty cool about giving you enough for the meat you've purchased.)
1 lb ground mild or hot Italian sausage
1 fennel bulb, centers removed and chopped
1 bunch fresh spinach - steamed and set aside
1/4 lb Prosciutto
2 Tbls extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper

Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees
Steam your spinach and set aside to cool.
In a large hot saute pan add the olive oil. Add the fennel and saute until soft. Add sausage to the fennel and mix with a slotted spoon until the sausage is cooked. When done, use the slotted spoon to remove the sausage and fennel and leaving any excess grease.

Lay out your pork loin on a flat surface. Season with salt and pepper. When cool enough to handle evenly spread the sausage and fennel mix onto the loin. Next, lay the spinach on top of the sausage and fennel followed by the prosciutto.
Now comes the hard part, rolling and tying the loin. It's always good to have an extra pair of hands the first time you try this.

The best you can, roll up the pork loin. Once rolled up use the butcher twine to tie it tightly together every inch or so. Take any filling that may have slipped out the side and simply stuff it back in the ends.

Place the rolled and tied Porchetta on a baking sheet and place in the oven for 35-40minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 140 degrees.

Remove from oven, let rest for 15 minutes, cut the strings, slice and enjoy.

Viva La Porchetta and Forza Italia!


Visit Guy's blog at

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Italian American Cuisine--- Eating At Cafe Martorano In Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.

As some of you may have noticed, I've been off the blog a few days due to a work obligation and what I like to call work-a-tion, which led me to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Let me tell me you what a beautiful time I had in Florida, sun in the mornings and by one, two o'clock-- rain, got to love the beginning of hurricane season.

While exploring the night-dinner scene, I was led to Cafe Martorano by a family friend, who lives in the Ft. Lauderdale area. I've actually heard of Cafe Martorano before but never dined there. For those of you who don't know about Cafe Martorano, its run by Steve Martorano, an Italian American, originally from Philly. The restaurant is also very frequented by major celebrities. Steve's bio is pretty interesting from beginning to end where he began selling sandwiches from his apartment to DJing at the most popular clubs during the 70s. He now owns two very famous restaurants locations in Ft. Lauderdale and now Las Vegas. A true entrepreneur's story.

The restaurant itself was full of atmosphere and customers excited to dine. I kind of felt like I was in Jersey. (Don't laugh there is something very comforting for we Jersey peeps.) I ordered the chicken cutlet with arugula, which was very good. Now, I don't like tons of goop and pomp & circumstance with or on my food and I will say this was very light and exactly what I expected. I should preface this part by also letting you know as we waited for our main course, someone, not the waiter, brought out a dish, which we did not order and told me, "this is from Steve." OK, so at this point, I thought "wow, how nice."

Our dinner was great, as I mentioned I was at the restaurant with family friends and it really turned out to be a pleasant experience. So, at the end of the dinner, I saw the owner, Steve Martorano standing behind the cooking counter, working and staying on top of things, I walked over and said, "thank you" for the extras and shook his hand. A super nice guy with a fabulous and trendy restaurant.