Saturday, January 2, 2010

Giorgio Ristorante Executive Chef Nico Chessa, Whole Foods Market and Stone Bewing Co. Team up for a Beer pairing dinner that was memorable

We have met Chef Nico Chessa on several occasions. When the Cuisineist found out he had teamed up with Whole Foods Market and Stone Brewing Company at his Giorgio Ristorante for a Beer dinner , we just had to stop by.

Giorgio Ristorante is a traditional Italian restaurant by famed restaurateur Piero Selvaggio . The menu at Giorgio Ristorante begins with an antipasto menu including vegetarian dishes and cold cuts. Pizza, baked pasta, meat and fish entrees as well. A gelato bar with a variety of authentic Italian gelatos is featured in the front of the restaurant, and an Italian deli case along with an Italian crystal-topped bar and lounge area are available for casual dining. Formal dining is available with an atmosphere for those seeking a more intimate dinner experience. Chef Nico Chessa serves as executive chef, and watches over every dish that comes out of his authentic Italian kitchen.

Giorgio Ristorante has won numerous awards including Wine Spectator’s 2007 Award of Excellence , Wine Spectator - Best Lunch , The San Diego Tribune – Best Wine By The Glass and The Las Vegas Sun – Best Pizza

Nico Chessa was born in 1966 on the Mediterranean Island of Sardinia. His passion for food began at a very early age, starting in his mother's kitchen.

While living in Sardinia, he traveled each season to various northern and southern Italian regions, embracing the opportunity to learn all of the basic techniques and ingredients unique to each region. Chessa received personal guidance from many highly-regarded professional chefs throughout Italy, including those at The Il Ginepro Restaurant, located on the coast of Sardinia. By working in a variety of kitchens he gained experience that allowed him to master the diversities of his culinary practices.

In 1992, Chessa moved to Rome to work in special events and catering at the prestigious Petrollini Banchetti, where he had the opportunity to showcase his talent for Italy's jet set and renowned clientele. Chessa had the pleasure of sharing his cuisine with Pope John Paul II during events held in Vatican City, including serving as the executive chef at the gala reopening of the Sistine chapel in 1996.

In 1998, Chessa set his sights on North America and headed to Houston, Texas to work as a chef at Arcodora, recognized by restaurant critic John Mariani of the New York Times as the finest Sardinian-style restaurant in the United States. Eventually, he relocated to Washington, D.C., and served as executive chef at Cafe Milano, where he shared his talent with celebrity clientele including congressional leaders, world-renowned entertainers and numerous dignitaries.

Chessa joined Restaurateur Piero Selvaggio's renowned Valentino Restaurant Group in May of 2003. He began his career with Valentino as a candidate for chef of the new Giorgio Ristorante. He worked for two months on the line stations and as sous chef under James Beard award-winning Chef Luciano Pellegrini. He now serves as the executive chef of Giorgio Ristorante. With Chessa's dedication, Giorgio has set a new standard in Las Vegas while encompassing a casual Italian ambiance at Mandalay Place in Las Vegas.

Whole Foods Market is very familiar to most of us. They are a leader in natural and organic foods, with more than 270 stores in North America and the United Kingdom. They still honor their original ideals and seek out the finest natural and organic foods available, maintain the strictest quality standards in the industry, and have an unshakable commitment to sustainable agriculture. On this occasion , They were supplying the beer.

Stone Brewing Co. is a craft brewery headquartered in Escondido, California. It was founded in 1996 in San Marcos, San Diego County, California.

The Brewery is best known for the aggressive Arrogant Bastard Ale, although the brewery considers Stone Pale Ale and Stone IPA to be its flagship beers. Most of their beers are characteristic of west-coast craft brews; that is to say, most beers have a traditionally 'hoppy' flavor. Stone beers are bottled in 22 ounce bottles, 12oz six packs, and occasionally 3 litre bottles.

Arrogant Bastard Ale started the evening off. Being deep mahogany amber in color with a nice creamy head that dissipates to a foam that laces the glass with nearly every sip.

The nose was nice and not too huge with hints of of malt and caramel. On the palate , citrus hops up front that finishes with toasty, caramel maltiness. This was paired with beef caparccio ,
peccarino cheese and green apple slices. This pairing was excellent with the mild saltiness of the
cheese, the tartness of the apples,the peppery qualities of arugla and the delicate slices of cappricio, alongside the toasty, Carmel flavors of the beer. Our palates were ready for the next pairing.

The Stone Smoked Porter is deep brown in color with a nice head. On the palate the porter starts off with a toasty malt then with dark fruit and a touch of smoke upon the finish.The subtle monk fish flavored with cayenne pepper and accented with meaty artichokes, added a spiciness that worked well with the dark fruit notes of the beer.

Paired with our dessert ,The Stone Pale Ale was Nico Chessa's most interesting paring of the night. The chocolate mousse with black pepper and powered sugar was indeed interesting. The black pepper was the creative spice that lent to the contrasting accompaniment of this dish and enhanced the flavors to enrich the mildness of the stone pale ale. This was an interesting and thoughtful finish to this beer tasting. This is Stone's flagship ale, and is their Southern California interpretation of the classic British pale ale style. Deep amber in color, Stone Pale Ale is robust and full flavored. A delicate hop aroma is complemented by a rich maltiness.

Chef Nico Chessa did a wonderful job pairing and in one case contrasting the Stone Brewing Company Beers with delicious and creative dishes. Join Scott from The Cuisineist as he speaks with Nico Chessa after the dinner and they discuss the reason behind the pairings.
ead chef.

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