Categories
Cookbook Eat Nutrition and healthy Eating THE CONNECTED TABLE RADIO SHOW

The Wake-Up Call That Changed This Chef’s Life

Many people have a wake-up call after experiencing a health setback. The call came to Chef Jean- Christian Jury after experiencing heart failure, not once but twice. Jean-Christian attributes his poor health to his erratic eating habits and relentless 16- hour day work schedule combined with the stress of running several restaurants and kitchens in London at the time.

Chef Jean-Christian Jury (Photo: Phaidon)

He heeded the call and changed his diet to plant based. In 2007, he opened his first vegan restaurant in Berlin, Mano Verde. Today, he’s based in Los Angeles and teaches vegan cooking around the world. His comprehensive new book, “Vegan The Cookbook,” (Phaidon) is filled with more than 150 plant based recipes from around the world. If you buy one book on vegan home cooking, this one is it.


Hazelnut Bean Burger from Vegan The Cookbook.
Photo: Phaidon

 

Chickpea Curry Burritos – Vegan The Cookbook (Photo: Phaidon)

 

Melanie Young and David Ransom are the insatiably curious culinary couple. Connected on Twitter@connectedtable Facebook/connectedtable. Instagram.com/theconnectedtable. Learn more at www.theconnectedtable.com

About us: Our mission is to engage and connect our audiences to the diverse world of food, fine beverage and hospitality and the dynamic people who help shape it through our shows, digital media and educational events. All of our 50 minute shows and SIPS! podcasts can be heard live on W4CY.com Wednesdays 2pm EST and anytime on iHeart.com and the free iHeart App.  Connect with us on Twitter@connectedtable, Instagram@theconnectedtable and Facebook@connectedtable

 

Listen now

EMBED THIS SHOW “Listen now”

 

Categories
Drink THE CONNECTED TABLE RADIO SHOW

From Dietitian to Winemaker- Denise Shurtleff- Cambria Wines

It’s all about chemistry. Cambria Wines’ Denise Shurtleff was studying for a degree in dietetics and food administration with the intention of focusing on a career in nutrition when she decided to apply for an internship at a winery. She never looked back, and the chemistry of winemaking became her calling.

 

Denise Shurtleff

Denise spent 16 years working at Corbett Canyon Vineyards as Winemaker and Winery Manager before joining Cambria Estate Winery in 1999 as Assistant Winemaker. Today she’s Head Winemaker.

Located in Santa Barbara County, Cambria is part of Jackson Family Estates. Jess Jackson and his wife, Barbara Banke acquired what was then called Tepusquet Vineyard in 1987 and renamed it “Cambria,” the Roman word for “Wales,” a nod to the family’s heritage. Today, Barbara runs Cambria with her two daughters, Katie and Julia Jackson. The winery is located on the Santa Maria Bench located on eastern edge of the Santa Maria Valley AVA. This area is kissed by cool fog, ocean breezes and a long slow growing season for the estate grown grapes, most notably Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, as well as Pinot Gris and Syrah. Cambria has been certified sustainable since 2009.

Listen now:

 

About us: Our mission is to engage and connect our audiences to the diverse world of food, fine beverage and hospitality and the dynamic people who help shape it through our shows, digital media and educational events. All of our 50 minute shows and SIPS! podcasts can be heard live on W4CY.com Wednesdays 2pm EST and anytime on iHeart.com and the free iHeart App.  Connect with us on Twitter@connectedtable, Instagram@theconnectedtable and Facebook@connectedtable

 

Categories
Drink THE CONNECTED TABLE RADIO SHOW

Six Degrees of Siperation

When you’ve been in the beverage and food business as long as we have – 30 years for each of us – you find yourself reconnecting with people over and over. Those people connect you to others in the industry. Your circle widens and yet becomes closer as your relationships deepen. We call it “Six Degrees of Siperation.”

Chatting with Steve Olson on a recent edition of The Connected Table LIVE! that term bubbled into my head. We counted the many ways we’ve connected with Steve over the years including: The James Beard Awards, Sherries from Spain, Greek wines, Windows of Hope Family Relief Fund, Rums of Puerto Rico, Tales of the Cocktail, the Food & Wine Classic, Beverage Alcohol Resource, Del Maguey Single Village Mezcal and Kansas City’s J Rieger & Co.

Connecting the sips with Steve Olson

For those of you who have worked – and played- with Steve, you know his energy is boundless and enthusiasm contagious. Many of us have been touched by Steve in our lives. Recently Pernod-Ricard acquired a major stake in Del Maguey Single Village Mezcal so we raise a spirited toast to Steve and his partners, Ron Cooper and Michael Gardner who have worked hard to put Mezcal on everyone’s lips.  Here’s a link to our show with Steve Olson. That’s right Steve, we’ve named the title for the memoir you need to write!

Or click this photo to listen now on iHeart:

 

Categories
Drink THE CONNECTED TABLE RADIO SHOW

Two Grapes Get a Makeover

Recently we attended two tastings that sparked our interest. Neither of the varietals spotlighted were front and center in our minds, and we welcomed the chance to educate our palates and try the wines.

Alicia Linis family has been making Lambrusco wines in Emilia-Romagna since 1910. A fourth generation family member, Alicia was recently in New York at i Trulli restaurant to share her family’s portfolio of LINI 910‘s sparkling wines, one produced in the metodo classico style and the other through the charmat process. She joins us June 7 to discuss why she feels the time is now for Lambrusco

 

Alicia Lini

 

Meunier Steps Out 

The invitation was to learn about Meunier (a.k.a. Petit Meunier), one-third of the Holy Trinity of Champagne grapes, the others being Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. It’s the second most widely grown grape in the region after PInot Noir and the least known. So, nine producers decided to band together to show Meunier some love, which they did at a tasting at Corkbuzz June 6th.

Fanny Heucq‘s family is an organic grower producer in the Marne Valley. She joins us June 7 to share Champagne-Heucqs story and why she feels the time is now to spotlight Meunier.

 

Fanny Heucq

 

Listen to this show on iHeart.com here and please give it a “thumbs up” and share”

 

Categories
Drink THE CONNECTED TABLE RADIO SHOW

Beaujolais at Its Best

We have a soft spot in our hearts for Beaujolais Crus wines. They’re always overshadowed by their flashy younger sister, Beaujolais Nouveau. We become annoyed when people confuse Beaujolais Nouveau with Beaujolais Crus and don’t give either a chance. Beaujolais Nouveau is like the bright holiday sweater you bring out for the season to have some fun; Beaujolais Cru is the fine cashmere you wear year-round. They both have their place…and style. Just don’t let anyone confuse them.

There are some many fine Beaujolais wines from the ten cru regions From north to south, each has its own subtle style: St-Amour, Juliénas, Chénas, Moulin-a-Vent, Fleurie, Chiroubles, Morgon, Régnié, Brouilly, and Côte de Brouilly. Many call them the gems of the appellation. So, we always wondered why the intense push to celebrate the release of the Nouveau received all bling. Well, they have their place at the table at different occasions.
For a “personality analysis” of each Beaujolais Cru check out this article from VinePair which also includes this helpful map:

 

This map is from the website VinePair, a great online resource.
This map is from the website VINEPAIR.COM, a great online resource.

 

Cyril Chirouze oversees winemaking at historic Château Des Jacques, located in the villages of Romaneche-Thorins in the Moulin-a-Vent appellation.  The winery, now under the management of Maison Louis Jadot, focuses on traditional Burgundian methods of wine making: longer maceration, wild yeast fermentation, and aging in oak barrels for ten months to add complexity.
Cyril Chirouze
Recently we dined with Cyril in New York at DB Bistro Moderne and tasted a preview of a few Château des Jacques 2015 releases. The wines were elegant, and Cyril was eloquent on the subject. He joins us May 31.

Listen here

Categories
Cookbook Eat

Talking True ‘Cue with Matt Moore – The South’s Best Butts

We share a pet peeve with Matt Moore: We get annoyed when people refer to a summer cookout or grilling as a “barbecue” or “barbecuing.”  It’s like calling Prosecco “Champagne.” It’s not the same.
Barbecue is a sacred tradition in the Southern states. Like real Coca-Cola, pimiento cheese and biscuits, we don’t like poor knock-offs or misuse of the word. In other words Don’t screw with the ‘cue.
In his book, “The South’s Best Butts: Pitmaster Secrets for Southern Barbecue Perfection,” Matt says, “Southern BBQ is its own religion. And to experience it is akin to hearing the Gospel for the first time.” And if you’re still not convinced of the religious fervor for true barbecue know there’s another new book out on this subject called “Praise the Lard” by Mike and Amy Mills.
In the South’s Best Butts, Matt heads out to interview pitmasters throughout the Barbecue Belt for tips on making true ‘cue. Each pit stop is a story of humble people working with a humble product: a pig. The barbecue mother sauces vary by region as may the method of cooking and the spiced rub, but the pig remains the common denominator. This is a book acheterdufrance.com about butts and the people who expertly cook them low and slow.
Barbecue loyalists: Tune in May 31, 2pmEST to hear from Matt Moore on The Connected Table LIVE! on W4CY.Podcast to iHeart.com.

 

 

Want it now? Buy it here!

Listen here on iHeart.com

 

Categories
Cookbook THE CONNECTED TABLE RADIO SHOW

Quenelles of Steel- Barbara Lynch on Living Life Out of Line

Reading Barbara Lynch‘s new memoir, “Out of Line: A Life Playing With Fire,” I was gripped with emotion and fascination. The term “Southie” was unfamiliar to this southern girl. So were the housing projects where Barbara grew up in South Boston next door to the notorious gangster, Whitey Bulger. Life in the hardscrabble ‘hood produced a gritty, gutsy gal with a loyal gang of pals. Success was not a straight shot for Barbara but rather a roundabout map with a few crazy detours, hard work and hard knocks.  But she made it. Big time. Moxie rules.

Barbara Lynch

Wednesday, May 3, 2pm EST, on The Connected Table LIVE! we speak with Chef Barbara Lynch (Barbara Lynch Gruppo), whose restaurants, all in Boston, including No. 9 Park, B&G Oysters, Drink, Sportello and Menton. Barbara is only the second woman to win a James Beard Foundation Award for Outstanding Restaurateur and is recipient of the Amelia Earhart Award for success as a woman in a male dominated field.

 

Barbara shares her story in her memoir with a funny frankness, and heartfelt sincerity that leaves you inspired. Her slogan is “Quenelles of Steel.” You better believe it!

Buy this book on Amazon. Click here:

 

 

Wednesday, May 3, The Connected Table LIVE! on W4CY.com. Podcast to iHeart.com

We bring you the dynamic people who work front and center and behind the scenes in food, wine, spirits and hospitality. Listen anytime on iHeart.com and the iHeart and live Wednesdays, 2pm EST onW4CY.com. Connect with us on Twitter@connectedtable,Instagram@theconnectedtable and Facebook@connectedtable
Categories
Drink Explore

The Sweet Smell of Success – Our Maple Syrup Weekend

After a week of intensive wine tasting in Napa Valley, we decided to treat ourselves to a maple syrup weekend in the Hudson Valley. We picked two farms to visit in nearby Dutchess County: Madava Farms, producers of Crown Maple Syrup, and Soukup Farms.

A “farm” can be many things much like a “country house.” The large stone sign at the entrance to Madava Farms was followed by a long driveway opening up to a vast property still covered with snow and surrounded by a forest of maple trees linked by sap tubing. The large sap production building and company store was packed with visitors coming for the weekend of maple syrup tastings, maple inflected cocktails and lunch offerings such as maple chicken tacos, maple pork sliders, fried chicken strips with maple syrup waffles and maple shakes. Outside, kids (and one big kid) roasted marshmallows over a fire pit.

David at Madava Farms, home to Crown Maple Syrup
Fool the eye photo: The sign is actually down a long driveway leading to the sap house.

Madava Farms started as a family retreat for Robb and Lydia Turner. They’ve turned it and their sought after maple syrup into quite a business! Madava Farms has 20,000 trees over 800 acres, plus 4000 acres in Vermont.

Just a short drive away and a world apart in style but equal in substance when it comes to a quality product lies Soukup Farms. It’s more of a farmstead with all the Soukup family members living in separate houses on the property. Originally a cattle farm, the Soukups started tapping maple syrup in 1955 as a hobby. Today they produce over 2000 saps from two sugarbushes (a cluster of sugar maple trees).  Pat Soukup gave us a tour of the small facility where we met her husband, son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter.

Three generations of the Soukup Family Farm in their store.

The maple season is short, roughly 40-50 days depending on the weather. It takes freezing nights and thawing days for the best sap. Higher temperatures can affect the quality. This year’s warmer winter was a curse; the recent blizzard and colder temperatures were a blessing. As Pat Soukup told us, “We are farmers first. We learn to deal with the weather and the outcome.”

Demand for maple syrup is on the rise. Health and wellness gurus promote it as a preferred natural sweetener (in moderation) and filled with antioxidants to fight inflammation, among other benefits. Chefs and bartenders are adding maple syrup to dishes and drinks. There’s even Drink Maple water which we tasted at the Summer Fancy Food Show.  We learned at our tasting at Crown Maple that lighter grade maple syrup is better for diabetics and the darker grade for athletes. We learned at Soukup Farms that the tree holds the secret to the color of sap that will seep out as demonstrated by this rainbow of saps collected this winter.

Saps at Soukup Farms

Listen to our interview with Michael Cobb, CEO at Crown Maple Syrup. The Connected Table LIVE! on iHeart.com

 

Categories
Drink Explore

Spring (Bud) Break In Napa

The spring buds are breaking in Napa Valley which puts everyone in a good mood after recent rains. Driving along Highway 29 gazing out at expansive wine estates, it’s hard to envision the ranch towns of the 1960’s when Napa Valley’s earliest vintners scooped up farmland for a fraction of what it would cost today.

Sign at Freemark Abbey Winery

It was an investment that paid off, and a gamble that hit the jackpot with international media attention from promotional stunts like the 1976 Judgement of Paris and numerous accolades for Napa Valley wines.  Still, in spite of its international reputation, Napa Valley is still among the world’s smallest wine regions with just 4% of California’s wine grape harvest and only one-eighth of the planted acreage of Bordeaux, according to the Napa Valley Vintners Association.

 

View from Joseph Phelps Vineyards

Stewards and Successors

Napa’s first commercial winery was established in 1861. America’s first designated Agricultural Preserve in 1968, Napa was established as an A.V.A. in 1981; today there are 16.  95% of Napa Valley’s wineries family-owned. Meet founding families of Napa who are working hard to preserve their legacies:  Janet and Hailey Trefethen, Trefethen Vineyards, and Bill and Will Phelps, Joseph Phelps Vineyards.

I have always had a fascination with cowboys after spending a few nights on a cattle station in the Australian Outback and at a dude ranch in Arizona. But I’ve never met a real-life cowgirl. Janet Trefethen is a top ranked equestrian and a member of the Cowgirl Hall of Fame. She’s also the first women CEO of an American Corporation. Janet and John Trefethen oversee the winery established by his parents Eugene and Catherine in 1968. The historic farm property located in Oak Knoll  was originally built in 1868 as “Eschol,” which is a biblical term for “lush cluster of grapes.”

Janet Trefethen, Trefethen Vineyards

Janet’s daughter and son, Hailey and Loren Trefethen, have joined their parents in running the winery. Hailey  has been overseeing the restoration of the original 1868 building which was damaged in the earthquake on April 24, 2014. The building is reopening this May (2017). Recently we spoke with Janet and Hailey on The Connected Table LIVE.

Hailey Trefethen

 

1973 was a big year for both the Trefethen and Phelps families. It was the first vintage for Trefethen and it was the year Joseph Phelps purchased a 600+ acre cattle ranch on the east side of St. Helena to create his namesake winery. Phelps, who owned a construction business, worked with architect John Marsh Davis to build the winery of his dreams to produce the wines he desired. He’s credited with being one of the first California producers to focus on Rhone style blends as well his signature Bordeaux blend, Insignia. We visited Joseph Phelps Vineyards for the first time this week. It was like visiting a sanctuary for fine wine.

Bill and Joe Phelps
Bill and Joe Phelps

Bill Phelps joined his father’s winery after a career in law and finance. Like his father, Bill takes a long-term strategy to producing wines and maintaining the Phelps legacy. One of his most notable initiatives was to transition the entire winery portfolio to estate grown. Bill will be joined by son, Will Phelps, who is the winery’s Director of Marketing.

Will Phelps
Joseph Phelps flagship wine, Insignia

 

Listen to our show with Janet and Hailey Trefethen and Bill and Will Phelps on iHeart.com

 

 

Listen anytime on iHeart.com and the iHeart and live Wednesdays, 2pm EST on W4CY.com. Connect with us on Twitter@connectedtable, Instagram@theconnectedtable and Facebook@connectedtable

Categories
Drink THE CONNECTED TABLE RADIO SHOW

“Phenomonal Femmes”- Women Making History

In our March Women Making a Mark spotlight we have two very dynamic guests March 15th on The Connected Table LIVE!  Both are passionately devoted to promoting diversity and collaboration within the industry and to giving back.

First up is Karen Hoskin, president and co-founder of Montanya Distillers based in Crested Butte, Colorado. Montanya utilizes old world artisan traditions to make its collection of rums which have been awarded 18 Gold and Silver Medals in International Competitions. In 2013 the company was named Craft Distiller of the Year by the American Distilling Institute (ADI) who has tapped Karen to be its keynote speaker for its upcoming conference April 3-6 in Baltimore.

Karen Hoskin, Montanya Distillers, is the first woman to give the keynote address at the American Distilling Institute Conference (ADI). Photo credit: Nathan Bilow

Our second guest is making history with her Phenomenal Femmes winemaker dinner series with The Ritz Carlton  Central Park in Manhattan. Marika Vida is the hotel’s Wine Director. She is also a sought after speaker, adviser and educator through her company, Vida et Fils. Phenomenal Femmes, now in its fourth year, spotlights women winemakers around the globe.  Proceeds from the dinner series benefit the women’s shelter at Crossroads Community Services in New York which provides food, shelter and other aid to individuals in need regardless of national origin, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity or disabilities. www.crossroadscommunitynyc.org

Marika Vida created Phenomenal Femmes to spotlight women winemakers and to give back to help women in need. Her next dinner March 28 at The Ritz-Carlton Central Park will feature Stacy Vogel, Winemaker at Miner Vineyards in Napa. Photo credit: Doug Young

Listen live on W4CY.com 2pmEST and anytime on iHeart.com

Categories
Drink Eat Explore RESTAURANTS AND CHEFS THE CONNECTED TABLE RADIO SHOW

Sonoma Stars

It had been awhile since either of had spent much time in Sonoma Valley, so we felt lucky to add three nights for a visit following our stay at Meadowood in St. Helena for the Professional Wine Writers Symposium. Where Napa feels gentrified and sophisticated, Sonoma feels bucolic and achaten-suisse.com laid back. It’s like comparing cashmere to fleece; they both feel great and will keep you warm outside, and you want both for different reasons.

Here we are with John Jordan in the barrel room

The first two nights were spent at Jordan Winery in Alexander Valley tasting wines, exploring the expansive estate and enjoying a quiet dinner with Lisa Mattson and her husband, Damon, at BarnDiva in nearby Healdsburg. Lisa was a guest on The Connected Table LIVE! to talk about her book, “The Exes in My Glass.” We met proprietor John Jordan whom we learned has a thing for “Star Wars” movies.  Jordan specializes in Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay and does both well.

 

 

Another night took us to The Shed Cafe, a restaurant located in a cookware shop and bakery. Most of the food is locally sourced within 10 miles of Healdsburg. We suggest checking out the four- course tasting menu for $58 with a $25 wine pairing option.  Address: 25 North Street, Healdsburg. 707-431-7433  www.healdsburgshed.com

 

Winter Citrus Salad with Avocado, Miners Lettuce, Sea Buckthorn and HomeFarm Olio Nuovo at The Shed in Healdsburg

 

Our final night was spent at Valette whose chef-owner, Dustin Valette visited with us on The Connected Table LIVE March 8th. Dustin began his restaurant career at the age of thirteen washing dishes at Catelli’s in his hometown of Geyserville. A Culinary Institute of America grad, he worked at several top restaurants to fine tune his skills, most recently spending six years as Executive Chef of Dry Creek Kitchen, a Charlie Palmer restaurant in downtown Healdsburg.  With his brother and fellow restaurant worker, Aaron Garzini, Dustin hatched a plan to open Valette in a building which housed his great grandfather’s bakery.  The two brothers opened Valette in 2015 spotlighting their deep passion and dedication to Sonoma Country and its food and wine purveyors and producers.

 

Chef Dustin Valette opened his restaurant in the same location where his great grandfather ran a bakery.

 

Valette is located at 344 Center Street, Healdsburg, CA  Phone: 707-473-0946 www.valettehealdsburg.com

The restaurant is hopping!  We dined there the night of the “Oscars.” David noshed on Dustin’s house made charcuterie and Coriander Crusted Liberty Duck Breast with tart pickled cherries and dick + foie grad torchon.  Little Miss Healthy Me enjoyed a vegetarian “beet Wellington” described on the menu as Tangerine Infused Beets en Papillote with preserved lemon, farro risotto, baby carrots and Laura Chenel goat cheese and Hawaiian Ahi Poke.

 

Tangerine Infused Beets en Papillote

 

 

Hawaiian Ahi Poke Styl

 

Give This Gal a Forklift!

Katie Madigan, is winemaker at St. Francis Winery.  Like many women winemakers I’ve interviewed, Katie started out planning on another career path not realizing the great opportunities for women in wine. She was a chemistry major intent on going into the pharma business. She took an internship as a lab technician at St. Francis in 2003 to pass the time and never left.

Katie Madigan has worked at St. Francis Winery for 14 years

Now 14 years later Katie is in charge of making St. Francis’s award winning wines. She says she’s most proud of making great wines widely available for everyone to enjoy.  I asked Katie for career tips for aspiring women winemakers. She says: 1. get your experience working in the cellar, 2. learn to run a pump and forklift  3. be ready to get your hands dirty 4. be confident on your palate and 5. be very patient.  Careers in wine, like the wine itself, can take time to mature.

While we did not make it to St. Francis Winery in Santa Rosa, we are very familiar with the wines. David has written about St. Francis Winery for Tasting Panel Magazine, and many years ago my former PR firm, M Young Communications, produced St, Francis’s Big Red chef events in New York and Los Angeles. You can arrange a visit, and we hope to next trip. www.stfranciswine.com

 

Here is our show with Chef Dustin Valette and Winemaker Katie Madigan on iHeart.com and the free iHeart App.

 

 

Categories
Eat RESTAURANTS AND CHEFS THE CONNECTED TABLE RADIO SHOW

A Restaurant Star in the City of Stars

City of stars
Just one thing everybody wants
There in the bars
And through the smokescreen of the crowded restaurants
It’s love

– Lyrics from “La La Land”

My last big trip to La La Land involved supplying George Duboeuf Poully-Fuisse to P Diddy’s Fourth of July White Party in Beverly Hills in 2009. White wine for a white party hosted by a hip hop/rap music mogul. It was hotter than Hades, and there was no shade for the wine bars or gift bags.  P Diddy may be a music impressario, but his stiletto-shod, mini-dress clad event production team didn’t have a tent or proper refrigeration for the wines which suffered in the heat. I worked like a crazy person to salvage the wine and to nab this “money shot” for Duboeuf.  “Diddy” refused to be photographed holding any alcohol other than his Ciroc Vodka. Still, this photo made them happy,

At P Diddy”s White Party July 2009 with Nicolas Ronteix and Barbara Scalera, both at the time working for Deutsch Family Wine & Spirits.
Thank goodness for fabulous ladies Leslie Sbrocco (l) Natalie Bovis (c) and Rachel Burkons (c) with Barbara Scalera (r) who were part of our small entourage.
Thank goodness for fabulous ladies Leslie Sbrocco (l) Natalie Bovis (c) and Rachel Burkons (c) with Barbara Scalera (r) who were part of our small entourage.

City of (Restaurant) Stars

Even though Los Angeles is filled with talented chefs and restaurateurs, it’s a New Yorker, Bobby Flay, who’s the first chef to get a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. We haven’t visited Los Angeles for awhile (since the crazy Diddy-do), so it was nice to run into Piero Selvaggio at VINO 2017 and invite him on the show. Piero is a polished Gucci loafer in a sea of sand-crusted flip flops. I like to say Los Angeles is Silicone Valley, where fat is OK for the lips but not for the hips. But back to Piero….

Restaurateur Piero Selvaggio is trim, tan and permanently youthful looking. He has that healthy La La Land glow which New York restaurateurs never seem to have. Maybe it’s the sun and surf; maybe it’s not dealing with the headaches of onerous New York landlords. Or maybe it’s his Sicilian heritage and being brought up on a Mediterranean diet. Piero is one of those amazing restaurateurs who’ve endured economic ups and downs, changes in trends and tastes and even an earthquake which destroyed his award winning wine cellar. And he still looks like a star!

Is red wine the Fountain of Youth? The ever youthful Piero Selvaggio.

Piero opened his Santa Monica restaurant, Valentino, after graduating in college in 1972. I was still in high school; “Italian food” meant Pasquale’s Pizza parlor and Chef Boyardee in Chattanooga. That was 45 years ago!

I can’t imagine how many Valentine’s Day marriage proposals, wedding anniversaries, or movie deals have been celebrated at Valentino over 45 years. Valentino has won just about every award that matters, especially in wine and service. It is a star among restaurants in the City of Stars.

Star like ravioli from Valentino Ristorante

When we scheduled Piero for our February 15th show he said to me in an email, “We are…the old warriors of the Industry…”  No, Piero, we are the enduring ones whose lights are constant and never dim, and who always remain fabulous!

Virginie Saveyrs, Owner, Avignonesi

A Corner of Italy- Nobile Di Montepulciano’s Avignonesi

That same summer of Diddy took me (with David) to Tuscany and the Veneto for the Trip of a Lifetime: two weeks touring four wine regions, all for work on a project called Italian Wine Masters which we launched in the USA.

During that trip I discovered and fell in love with Nobile di Montepulciano wines. I remember our visit to Avignonesi and its owner, a gracious woman who hosted us, Virginie Saverys. I ran into Virginie last Fall at the StarChefs International Chefs Congress, and we caught up after so many years.

A lawyer by profession who was born in Ghent, Belgium, Virginie invested in Avignonesi in 20017 and acquired the winery in full in 2009 after retiring from practicing law. Virginie is a strong believer in organic products and homeopathic medicine and has worked to convert the winery to sustainable farming methods. Today, Avignonesi comprised of eight vineyards within the Montepulciano region.

Here’s our show with Virginie Saverys and Piero Selvaggio: