So you think you like Italian food here in America?
You walk into your friendly neighborhood Italian restaurant with a craving for fettuccine Alfredo or Chicken Vesuvio. Or when the waiter offers fresh mozzarella or parmesan for your clam sauce linguine, you bury the seafood pasta dish under a mound of cheese.
The actual Italian TV judge on The Food Network’s “Iron Chef America” cringes at the thought.
“In Italy, cheese on seafood is forbidden,” says Rome-born Mario Rizzotti, one of the world’s leading experts on authentic Italian cuisine, over the phone from his home in suburban Chicago.
“Unfortunately,” he says, listing fettuccine Alfredo and Chicken Vesuvio among several dishes that are actually American creations by Italian-born chefs using ingredients grown on American soil, “this is the Italian Americanization of Italian cuisine products. There is a market for that. People like that. But in Italy, we don’t eat that.
On Saturday night, Rizzotti and Chef Adam Weisell, owner of Aurelia Osteria in Chicago, will head to South Bend’s historic Tippecanoe Place restaurant alongside Executive Chef Edward Bareham to cook a real Italian four-course dinner.
The night is part of Rizzotti’s “4 the Love of Italian Food” tour, designed to educate Americans about authentic Italian food products and help diners distinguish authentic Italian cuisine from American counterfeits and learn how Italian food ingredients authentic can help reduce health problems. related to poor diet.
“The format is similar to a wine dinner,” says Tippecanoe Place general manager Kevin Jakel.
Since leaving Rome and moving to Chicago, where he started as a dishwasher and rose through the ranks to become an Italian culinary expert for Academia Barilla – the Parma, Italy-based center dedicated to development and promotion of Italian food culture – Rizzotti has traveled the country educating people on the differences between olive oils, balsamic vinegars, Italian cheeses and cured meats, and how to distinguish authentic Italian products and incorporate these ingredients in a daily diet to improve overall health.
Fettuccine Alfredo? No grace.
“Italy had nothing to do with the fettuccine they made here,” says Rizzotti.
Pure and extra virgin olive oil, that’s Italian.
“The extra virgin olive oil is pure without any flaws,” says Rizzotti and cites the Terre Rosse brand from Umbria as his favorite. “This is a very nice selection of two varieties of olives, hand picked and pressed for 24 hours from the time they left the tree.”
The best of the best is around $22 a bottle. Pay $10 or $12 more than the usual mark, or pay later, warns Rizzotti.
“If you like buying the oil with the fillers, don’t hesitate. The consumer will make the final choice, but believe me, you are what you eat,” he says.
Chances are you can’t find the most important ingredient for your Italian dish at the store. Still, says Rizzotti, don’t even bother cooking at home without it.
“When you get the ingredients to list, at the very top with a pencil, write…passion,” says Rizzotti. “If you’re not passionate about what you do, your food will never taste good. Put some love in your kitchen. Put some love into your choice of Italian dishes. It will make a difference, not only for your dish, but for your health.
• What: Authentic Italian dinner prepared by Chef Mario Rizzotti, judge on The Food Network’s “Iron Chef America”
• Or: Tippecanoe Place Restaurant, 620 W. Washington St., South Bend
• When: 6:04 p.m. Saturday
• Cost: $124 per person
• For more information: Call 574-234-9077