Playing Chef for a Day at the McGladrey Culinary Challenge!
Since I started this blog, a question that I often get is: “If you love food so much, why not cook more?” My answer has always been, A) I work about 70 hours a week in my day job – so the last thing I want to do is come home and make a mess/clean up a mess in my kitchen and B) Why cook something mediocre when I can enjoy a meal done well by a professional?”
This is not to say I hate cooking, in fact, it’s quite the opposite – I totally love firing up the oven and sautéing the greens…I only wish I didn’t have to clean up afterward! Luckily a few weeks ago, my wish came true when I was asked to be the “sous chef” for Chef Dante de Magistris at The McGladrey Culinary Challenge in Charlestown. This evening of delicious dishes paired seven local renowned chefs with seven charitable organizations to raise funds in support of community-based projects in the Boston area. And the best part? I was not just any “sous chef” – I was the designated Media Celebrity “Sous Chef”, along with other notable Boston personalities, such as TV Diner’s Billy Costa and former WCVB anchorwoman Natalie Jacobson, selected to be paired with each of the seven chefs! How did I get the gig? Well I wish I could chalk it up to my good looks and charm, but I was actually the “wait listed” replacement for the REAL media celebrity who couldn’t attend at the last minute. Ah, if only getting off the college admission wait list was as sweet and lucky!
Team Dante, led by Chef Dante de Magistris, chef and co-owner of Restaurant Dante in Cambridge and il Casale in Belmont, was raising money for The Boys and Girls Club of Boston. Our team served up a three cheese ravioli with wild mushrooms and a candied pancetta (Italian bacon). Personally, I thought it was one of the Top 3 dishes of the night (and I’m not saying that just because I was the sous chef). I especially loved the sweet and crunchy pancetta – it really gave the rich ravioli a nice sugary kick!
During the hustle of serving the hungry guests, I chatted with Chef Dante and learned a few tidbits about this chef turned restaurateur:
- Dante is a self-taught chef and has no formal culinary school training. But he does come from an Italian family that loves to cook so he had plenty of practice growing up.
- Chef Dante is Massachusetts born and raised – he grew up in Belmont and now lives in the North End.
- This chef’s got a lot of fans – not a second went by without a party guest coming up to compliment him on a fabulous meal experienced at his two restaurants.
It was super fun playing chef for a night, as well as tasting all the yummy creations from the other teams! Dante didn’t win the friendly challenge (that honor went to Chef Chris Damian from the Legendary Restaurant Group and his charity the Morgan Memorial Goodwill Industries — CONGRATS!), but the event still raised over $60,000 that night for the Boston community. So cheers to great food, great charity, and a great way to spend a Tuesday night!