“Does anyone want to film this? I have a Flip camera; just don’t look at the videos from last night”, jokes Top Chef Fabio Viviani as he opens our Bertolli hands-on cooking experience in the kitchen of STK.
Three Bertolli oils are used in the demonstration: extra virgin, extra light and classico. He explains to us when to use each oil. Because of its pronounced flavor, extra virgin is used as a finishing oil and as salad dressings. It dries up quickly and is not intended to be used for cooking. Extra light is the oil for cooking. Unfortunately, light refers to the flavor and not the calories! The classico oil is a Bertolli specialty. A mix of both oils, it has a rich, flavorful taste that can be used for cooking.
His first dish is pork tenderloin with arugula salad. He cuts the pork, adds seasoning and then sears it in a stir-fry pan. In another pan, he is making caramelized tomatoes. The salad includes olives, feta cheese, avocado and extra virgin olive oil all mixed together.
While we are enjoying this dish, he prepares and cooks the second one. He entertains us with jokes, stories and cooking tips. He stresses the importance of seasoning and to never be shy with it.
Viviani is vibrant and entertaining; he keeps us on our toes throughout the entire experience with his great sense of humor. He is an extremely knowledgeable chef who does not forget his roots. He constantly reminds us of his background which is the inspiration for the dishes he has cooked today.
“I cook peasant food. Sure, I can make gourmet plates and charge you high prices. But that’s not up my alley and I won’t do that. I grew up on food stamps and if you’re looking for fine cuisine, you won’t find it here.”
The second dish is escolar fish with caponata. He sears the fish with a whole lemon cut in half and seasons it with salt, pepper and a little bit of rosemary. The caponata is made with classico oil, celery, pinenuts, onions carrots, olives, eggplant, tomato paste, brown sugar and rosemary. He adds white balsamic vinegar as a coat.
The experience ends as we eat the final dish. Chef Viviani thanks the restaurant, the help and us, as well. Afterward, he stays to chat and answer questions for a few minutes with us while we eat.
Contributor Culinary Blogger, Alejandra Beck