I recently had the privilege of photographing Chef Francesco Torre, owner and chef of Canneti Roadhouse in Forestville, Sonoma County, California. Chef Torre taught an excellent cooking class for Fresh Starts Chef Events, called A Taste of Tuscany, to support Homeward Bound, a homeless shelter in Marin County providing food, shelter and job training for those in need.
Chef Francesco Torre was executive chef at Fish in Sausalito before opening his own restaurant. He was also Executive Chef for Tra Vigne Restaurant in Saint Helena, Napa Valley, and Verace Restaurant in Long Island, New York. Chef Torre presented such a fun and engaging class, sharing many great stories of how he became interested in cooking from the time he was a young boy, watching his grandmother cook in Italy. It’s always nice to both laugh and learn over delicious food!
The menu of the evening consisted of a four-course tuscan meal, beginning with Ricotta and Mascarpone Dip with Chives and Rosemary Crisps (which was one of those dips that I would gladly lick off the plate if no one was looking)!
The crisp was followed by Potato and Chestnut Gnocchi with Pancetta, Porcini Mushrooms and Pecorino Cheese — I loved the savoury flavour of the pancetta and mushrooms — so good!
The main course was Crispy Skin Rainbow Trout, Black Rice with Butternut Squash and Chickpea Crepes.
My fish was cooked perfectly with a lightly crusted skin (my favorite part), and the sweet butternut squash made the perfect accompaniment to the fish.
Wine expert, Ziggy the Wine Gal, joined Chef Torre in presenting the wine pairings for the evening, which were generously donated by Benziger Family Winery. I’ve taken a tour at Benziger Winery before and highly recommend it if you’re ever in Sonoma.
For dessert, the culinary students made a delicious Homemade Chocolate Mousse Cup with Sugar Crisp Cookie.
One of my favorite parts of these events is sneaking into the kitchen and catching the action as the other chefs and culinary students prepare and plate the meals for service. There is such an exciting energy in the kitchen that I just love.
I look forward to the next chef event later in February with Marvin Blandon of the Novato Fire Department, who was named California’s Best Firehouse Chef. I’ve heard that some of the best chefs are firefighters — I’ll be sure to fill you in next month!