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Cooking Team Building

Last week I headed to Paris in order to conduct a cooking team building for the luxury watches brand Officine Panerai,

an historic watchmaking that combines the design and the Italian creativity with Swiss technology and the passion for the sea. The cooking workshop took place in the sensational setting of the Italian Cultural Institute, which is located in the heart of the city of lights' 7th arrondissement, on the rather glittering yet conservative Rue de Grenelle. It's always great to discover wonderful places inside the ville lumière bringing about a breath of fresh air involving cultural events, talks and activities.

The concept behind this brand gastronomic consultancy was to define the concepts that link the Italian gastronomic culture to the essence of the firm's philosophy. Embracing our lifestyle and habits through a storytelling on the origin of the dishes proved to be the perfect way to involve the different teams working in the retail section of Panerai France.

At the end of each workshop, teams were given a recipe booklet with a little Italian food culture background (there's no food without an historical background)  and then, bien sur, all the recipes that they could easily replicate at home. The partner of the event was the celebrated coffee maker producer Bialetti. Away from all globalization-centric industrial ways of making coffee, we decided to take the Moka and each member of the group gave it a go.

At the end of the 2 days full on the Italian Gastronomic Culture, a reception has been organized in the premises of the Institute. Here is where Vuthéara, an active member of the Instagram Community, joined me for a talk, a few drinks, and...

why not, a few photos. This camera virtuoso has been the official photographer for the guides to the city of Paris in 2013. Here is how the amazingly talented eye of Vuthèara sees me:

vutheara

With #foodhappiness and love,

Eleonora

Made exception for this last shot, all photo credits go to Olivia Magris.

Taste of Roma Show Cooking

Someone once said "We'll always have Paris" - and I followed, literally. Not just because his name was Humphrey Bogart but for that Jenesaisquoi that characterizes all things French. For those of you who know me by now it is no secret that I nurture a rather obsessive passion for everything that is French. Looking around my beloved city of Rome though, I noticed that there is no such thing as a French Bistrot.

When I got an invitation to participate with a show cooking at Taste of Roma, It suddenly seemed obvious to me that one good option would be to glitter my little corner up with some good old fashioned parisian bistrot dish.  I am not talking about the renown starred tables which are spread all over the world. No, I am talking pure, unfussy, simple homemade French kitchen. In other words, the Basse Cuisine as opposed to the Haute Cuisine. This is certainly one of the sides which made me fall madly in love with this beyond the Alps' culture.

My showcooking was due at 10 p.m., but in perfect Roman fashion it only started about half an hour late, which worked perfectly fine for me since, Taste of Roma being a foodie festival, chances were that most of the audience would have had more than a bite by that time and could be keen to watch my much anticipated little show.

I only had 50 minutes to make a three courses dinner without a oven. Yes I know, one cannot think of  Crème Brulée or authentic Boeuf Bourguignon without it but ehy, not everyone's kitchen comes fully equipped either, so I decided to turn the officia rules upside down a little and dealt with what I had.

I was only starting to prepare the oeuf en cocotte when, oh boy, I found out that not only I was oven deprived but also, my beloved kitchen accessories, perfect for home cooking, were experiencing a little difficulty on top of the induction stove. This is where the renown Italian art of scrounging up came in handy. With the use of what was left from my predecessor, I somehow managed to make a Maigret de Canard à l'Orange (Orange Duck Breast), Oeuf en Cocotte and the traditional Crêpes with my own twist: indulging, salted caramel. And I laughed my head away. In spite of being in such a formal environment, with 12 Michelin starred chefs cooking up a storm for over 50,000 visitors all over Rome's Auditorium. After all, I'm the anti-chef par excellence. Food Interpreter, my activity. Food Happiness, my final target.

After all, why not adding that extra Taste? Thank you, Taste of Roma 2013.

Qualcuno una volta disse " Avremo sempre Parigi " - ed io l'ho seguito , letteralmente . Non solo perché il suo nome era Humphrey Bogart , ma per quel Jenesaisquoi che caratterizza tutte le cose francesi. Per quelli tra voi che mi conoscono ormai non è un segreto che io nutra una passione piuttosto ossessiva per tutto ciò che è di matrice francese . Guardando in giro per la mia amata città di Roma , però, ho notato che non esiste nulla che assomigli ad un Bistrot Francese.

Quando ho ricevuto l'invito a partecipare  al Taste of Roma con uno show cooking , improvvisamente l'unica opzione ovvia per far scintillare il mio piccolo angolo era quella di portarvi qualche buon vecchio piatto di bistrot alla moda parigina. Non sto parlando dei rinomati tavoli stellati che sono diffusi in tutto il mondo. No , sto parlando della pura e cruda cucina casalinga francese, quella senza fronzoli per intenderci . Questo è certamente uno dei lati che mi ha fatto innamorare perdutamente della cultura d'oltralpe.

L'inizio del mio showcooking era previsto per le 10 di sera, ma in perfetto stile romano è cominciato con un ritardo di mezz'ora, il che ha funzionato perfettamente per me poiché, essendo il Taste of Roma un festival per foodie, c'erano forti probabilità che a quell'ora la maggior parte del pubblico avrebbe già addentato più d'un piatto e avrebbero volto l'interesse più volentieri dunque verso il mio tanto atteso piccolo show.

Avevo solo 50 minuti per cucinare un pasto di tre portate, e senza un forno. Sì, lo so, è impossibile pensare alla Crème Brûlée o ad un autentico Boeuf Bourguignon senza di esso, ma, si sa, non è che tutte le cucine di casa siano completamente attrezzate, così ho deciso di mettere sottosopra le regole ufficiali e ho tentato di fare di necessità virtù, signori miei.

Stavo  iniziando a preparare l'oeuf en cocotte quando, oh oh, ho scoperto che non solo dovevo combattere senza un forno, ma inoltre i miei amati accessori da cucina, ideali per una cucina casalinga, stavano vivendo un momento tragico sulla parte superiore del fornello ad induzione. E' qui che la celebre arte dell'arrangiarsi tutta italiana mi è stata particolarmente utile. Con l'uso di qualche elemento lasciato  per sbaglio sul banco dal mio predecessore, sono, non so come, riuscita a preparare un Maigret de Canard à l'Orange (petto d'anatra all'arancia), un Oeuf en Cocotte e le tradizionali Crêpes con un tocco tutto personale: il fragrante caramello salato. E ho riso, per tutto il tempo. A dispetto di un ambiente tanto accademico, con 12 chef stellati Michelin che cucinavano per oltre 50.000 visitatori sparsi per tutto l'Auditorium di Roma. Dopo tutto, io sono l'anti-cuoco per eccellenza. Food Interpreter, la mia attività. Food Happiness, il mio obiettivo finale.

Dopo tutto, perché non aggiungere quel Taste in più? Grazie, Taste of Roma 2013.

Mad Men Yelp Event, Rome

It was July the 4th and I was invited to cook for Yelp, a worldwide review community. The theme was Mad Men, based on the well known American tv-series set in the '50s, all cigars and polka dots. Clearly, I had to play accordingly, so I pulled my hands together and started researching for some famous retrò American recipes that I could revisit.

yelp

The event was hosted on the Albergo Cesari terrace within the beautiful surrounding of Roman rooftops, jazz music was in the air and everything seemed just perfect until a storm fell trying and discouraging us. Unsuccessfully though, since it only made the view of the eternal city all the more appealing.

On the menu for this stars and stripes event was a series of housewives classics such as sandwiches and cheesecakes, twisted for the occasion by mixing to the recipes the less used vegetables which Italy is so full of. For example, Puff Pastry filled with Roastbeef and Horseradish sauce.  This came as a surprise since people in Italy are used to eat the puff pastry as a dessert in the form of bignè. In the intervals to/from the kitchen, I foodtalked to a lovely crowd for the entire evening, thinking they are the most active members of a review community I took all of their positive comments about me posted on Yelp as an honour!

The Miniburger with Ginger Chicken and Amalfi Lemon Mayo were sitting by the side of some tiny Salmon Cheesecakes,  and the Zucchini and Fennel Muffins were shadowed by the Cigars with Brie & Beetroot. Undeniably, the mystic retro atmosphere played a huge role, but the best came when the band started playing "As Time Goes by" and the guests, in full Casablanca-like outfit, enjoyed my take on the Independence Day Cake, glazed in white chocolate and decorated with wild berries and raspberries.

DON DRAPER: Teddy told me the most important idea in advertising is “new.” It creates an itch. You simply put your product in there as a kind of calamine lotion. He also talked about a deeper bond with a product: nostalgia. It’s delicate, but potent. Sweetheart. [starts slide show featuring photos of Draper's family.] Teddy told me that in Greek, nostalgia literally means the pain from an old wound. It’s a twinge in your heart, far more powerful than memory alone. This device isn’t a space ship, it’s a time machine. It goes backwards, forwards. It takes us to a place where we ache to go again. It’s not called a wheel, it’s called a carousel. It lets us travel the way a child travels. Round and a round, and back home again. To a place where we know we are loved.

The Clandestine Kitchen, Paris

I was in Paris to hold my very first french oriented  cooking workshop, or atelier as a true born Parisian would rather put it. It's been a full two-days events, with 8 classes lasting each an hour and a half. As I was going through the organization, I was thrilled as much as terrified to have on my list nothing but the purest kind of parisians: the intellectually engaged, art addicted, bistrot goers.Will they hook to my food happiness? As a matter of fact, they did!

The marché de Rue Gros in the 16th arrondissement as well as La Grande Epicerie came in quite handy to get just the quality ingredients I was looking for. I came across the stall of a gentleman called Joël Thiébault which is definitely worth a go, since this man provides Parisian chefs with "la crème de la crème" (the most exclusive) vegetables.

Italian style was indeed priority on the menu, my national flag's three colors ever present in all edible forms. Everything went quite smoothly, with everyone coming fashionably on time. All of the team came equipped with a good quantity of curiosity, enhanced by the practice of some good old fashioned yet revisited Italian traditions. By the end of the workshop, all of the participants have been provided with a pot of original Pesto from Genoua kindly supplied by Francesco Profumo.

I couldn't be doing any of this If it wasn't for the exquisite hospitality of Jean-Edwin, who opened the door of his Haussmanian apartment right by the corner of the Avenue des Champs-Élysées to perfect strangers, in order to cheerfully get together, explicitely hands on cooking.

Many thanks to Jamie Cowan for putting his incredible photographic talent at our disposal for the event.