The New VinEducation

IMG_8025This year marks the beginning of a new phase for me and my company, VinEducation, after many years of hibernation. The new model – a portfolio of several types of food and beverage ventures, with great new adventures still to come.

For now, the website feeds to this blog, but by the end of March 2013, it will be packing its bags and moving to its very own site! Till now, here’s a bit of information about what’s happening.

1. Food and Beverage Education: After over a decade working for two of the world’s most influential culinary institutions, I have taken my unique innovative approach to teaching on the road! Although I remain an adjunct beverage instructor at the International Culinary Center, I will also be teaching classes privately and publicly for novices, serious amateurs, and industry professionals in NYC, California, and internationally.

2. Culinary Event Management: More chefs and restaurateurs are finding themselves torn between the day-to-day operation of their businesses and the growing need for public interaction through food festivals, charity events, industry conferences, etc. I’ve worked with several of the largest – including New York City Wine and Food Festival, New York Culinary Experience, StarChefs International Chefs Congress, and Meatopia – helping chefs and organizers handle the food-related preparation, and complex logistics of moving chefs, staff, and food across the country and around the world to the waiting plates of thousands of guests.

3. Private Chef: I am now working with a wonderful company, Kitchit, who handle all my private chef bookings in NYC and (very soon) in LA and San Francisco as well.

4. International Culinary Tourism: This is the one I’ve been waiting for… exclusive, hands-on, behind the scenes culinary trips to Istanbul, Paris, and Italy are currently in the planning phases. Hope to see the experience launch in Fall 2013.

5. Food and Beverage Writing: Look for a new and improved “Eat and Tell” column on Eat Something Sexy coming soon! And, maybe a new book on the horizon? And, of course – the return of regular (weekly) posts on Wander, Eat and Tell!

Please let me know if there are any food, beverage or travel topics you’d like to see more of… your comments and suggestions are always welcome!

Posted in Events, Future Wanderings, Writing | 1 Comment

New Year, New Business, New List of Places to Go


In a previous post, I alluded to new beginnings on the horizon – 2013, began not only a new year – it brought a big change to my career. My inner gypsy has taken the reigns once again and VinEducation has a new portfolio of business opportunities to explore. In addition to private chef , culinary consultant, and beverage instruction (still an adjunct instructor at The International Culinary Center); I will be incorporating a greater focus on gastronomic tourism in many forms from writing academically and for fun, to local excursions and possibly a new food and wine education destination, and eventually luxury cultural excursions to international destinations. A very exciting new year, indeed!

For inspiration, I’d like to share a recent piece from The New York Times… The 46 Places to Go in 2013.

Free your inner gypsy!

Posted in Cultural bits, Events, Random Musings | Leave a comment

Heaven by the Sea

As long as there is Kaua’i, Don Ho’s words will ring true. After nearly ten years, I finally returned to Hawaii’s garden island and spent over a week basking in the sun (and moon) over Hanalei. This was a very low key trip. Traveling with two friends and a five month old guaranteed good company and quiet evenings sipping tropical cocktails in our condo enjoying cool breezes and the moon lingering over the ocean, then early mornings scooping fragrant lilikoi (passion fruit) from its shell while enjoying the glow of sunrise reflecting on the jagged mountains across the bay.

I’m very sad for all the suffering caused in NYC (aka Home) by Hurricane Sandy, but I am also deeply grateful for the delicious, tranquil moments spent in Heaven by the Sea.

View for our terrace

Posted in From My Travels, U.S., Very Far | Leave a comment

Upcoming Event

 I am happy to announce that next month I will be doing one of my first traveling classes (hoping there will be many more coming soon!).

On August 19 I will be on Cape Cod at Chillingsworth Restaurant teaching a cooking class and hosting a luncheon with the restaurant’s owners and my friend and co-author Amy Reiley. We will be celebrating Julia Child’s 100th birthday by featuring several of her most classic recipes and offering lighter, more contemporary, aphrodisiac alternatives from Amy’s latest book “Romancing the Stove”… all with appropriate wine pairings, of course!

 Even if you aren’t going to be on the Cape at that time, please forward this to anyone you think may be interested in attending. I’ve highlighted all the information in the reprint of the Chillingsworth newsletter below.

Welcome to Cape Cod

508 896 3640

Comfy lounge area in Chillingsworth

From the last time I “taught” at Chillingsworth – Pate a Choux

 Hopefully you have seen some  of the wonderful reviews we have received: The Cape Cod Times weekly events featured Bistro dinner, as did the San Diego Times who did an article on “The Perfect Dinner” at Chillingsworth. Boston Magazine featured us in their article on Great Places to stay, Fodor’s once again included us in the Editor’s Pick, calling Chillingsworth “one of the Crown Jewels of Cape Restaurants…a memorable Dining experience” The Talk of the Town gave us a 5* rating for excellence in customer satisfaction. Again high Rankings from ZAGAT!! Yankee Magazine included us as an Editor’s Pick. Drop in and see what the BUZZ is all about…


  • The bar has an extended small plates menu for those of you wishing a quick bite with a martini(i!)  or a glass of wine. No reservations required or accepted for Bar seating so just pop in.
  • Chills Bistro continues to run 3 course specials but now only from 5 to 6pm, for  orders in before 6pm.
  • Chillingsworth is now offering a selected a la carte menu in addition to our 6 course tasting menu.
  • Sunday Brunch continues with indoor and outdoor seating and wonderful menu options; named in 2011 as one of the best outdoor seating venues by Travel &
  • Leisure!! *We have our line up of monthly events for the summer with additional details as the evenings approach.

THE SEA TO SHORE DINNER SATURDAY JULY 28TH w/Special Guest MARY HIGGINS CLARK:  Returning by popular request we will host a dinner featuring our local purveyors of fish, clams, oysters, lobster, herbs & vegetables. There will be booths set up for the cocktail reception In a “market stand motif” One can move from Booth to Booth sampling hors d’oeuvre sized bites. Dinner will be built around the same local ingredients with a selection of “Summer Wines” by course: a great seminar on the best of local ingredients, preparation, & wine picks to dazzle your houseguests in the coming months. Meet the faces behind the products at this “Sea Market Dinner”!! Celebrated author MARY HIGGINS CLARK WILL PRESIDE AS GUEST OF HONOR!! Consistently on the top of The New York Times Best Selling list, Mary’s novels are compelling and poignant. She takes a small break from her writing to spend time with her family at their Dennis house. We are delighted to catch her for this local event. She will mingle with guests at the  “Market Reception” and will be available to sign books.  So  pick up one of her new best sellers & bring them along (Brewster bookstore!!) She’ll be happy to sign them!! A great occasion to meet a wonderful lady & dear friend of ours & the Restaurant’s!!!!

                            $130 per person, inclusive of tax & gratuity.

******JULIA!!! SATURDAY, AUGUST 11th ******

A  NATIONWIDE CELEBRATION OF JULIA CHILD’S 100TH BIRTHDAY: We are honored to be a part of this event since Julia was a dear friend and spent many a weekend in our “Foster” guest room, plus celebrating a few of her Birthdays with us. She would hang out in the kitchen and “assist”. We did an epic booksigning for which we were totally unprepared for the onslaught of fans. Plus, we hosted, with Guy Savoy ,(who flew in from Paris) before he was a 3-Star chef in Paris (and 2Michelin Stars in Vegas) a guest chef dinner with Guy, Nitzi, & Julia as “Guest of Honor”. We will  replicate that dinner, including many of her favorite dishes, on this evening, and will have our collage of photos and correspondence on display. The wines will be a selection of French & American (California) suiting her taste.  This promises to be an evening of GREAT fun & reminiscence…celebrated at select restaurants across the country.

  $150 per person inclusive reception of hors d’oeuvres & champagne multi-course dinner with wine pairings;  tax & gratuity


  Last summer at the same time, we had Amy Reiley, cookbook author, food critic for Gayot”s Taste, and international authority on Aphrodisiac Foods, (which is great fun), author of the Blog “Life of Reiley’, scheduled for a PINK Lunch when Hurricane  Irene blew in as an uninvited guest. We have rescheduled the luncheon but have added  Annette Tomei (data removed by blog author) Annette has traveled the world conducting cooking classes so we are delighted to have them both join us. Nitzi will assist!! We will have a demonstration cooking class like those at the ICC or the Cordon Bleu, it will be held in the bistro kitchen followed by a luncheon of the items prepared, plus wines. This will be lively, informative & amusing: a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon. Weather permitting we may set tables for Luncheon outside so wear “Garden Party Festive’ Cookbooks will be available for purchase: recipes will be provided from the demonstration!!  Limited seating. Please gather some friends and reserve in advance. *Price per person: $95 includes Cooking Demo; Luncheon with wines, recipes; tax & gratuity!!!! A Bargain!! NY & Paris cooking schools come to us….



  As always we shall gather in the garden in our Summer Whites and imbibe a selection of Champagnes from Blanc de Blanc, Vintage, and Rose’s from multiple premier champagne houses. We will have a rep from the Champagne region on hand to discuss the nuances of the various houses; it is an extraordinary opportunity to sample this “Nectar of the Gods” in comparative tastings… top Champagne houses. The menu will reflect these delicate wines. A great way to celebrate Summer’s end; a grand finale’!! Gather a group of friends and join us. *This is priced at $150 per person: Reception, Champagnes through the evening, & a five course dinner; tax & gratuity included…. Beginning at 6:30


Pat, Nitzi, Barlay & our staff

 Chillingsworth Restaurant

2449 Main Street

Brewster, MA 02631


Posted in Cultural bits, East Coast & New England, Events, Future Wanderings, Restaurants | Leave a comment

VinEducation 2012

Eating and drinking should  be, above all else, fun – but that doesn’t mean they cannot also be a vehicle for the discovery of new cultures, tastes, and thought processes. It is from that premise that VinEducation 2012 will grow.

I returned to NYC from Napa Valley almost 7 years ago, I did so with the intention of developing VinEducation into a premium food and beverage education service for amateurs, enthusiasts, and professionals alike. Fortunately, I got sidetracked – It’s been a wonderful opportunity to further my education and develop new skills and connections.

In the past, the majority of my work with VinEducation has been as a private chef, frequently incorporating an educational component – either wine or cooking skills – into the program. Going forward, I will continue those delightful meals, but will also develop the “discovery” aspect of the business more and more.

Soon (target: Summer 2012), I hope to offer our first destination-based gastronomic excursions. Possibly a cooking class and cocktail pairing on Cape Cod (mid- summer 2012); a cooking class-hiking tour-beer & wine tasting in the Catskills not far from NYC; a long weekend of cooking, tasting, and touring Napa & Sonoma wine roads; or a dine-around and farmers’ market cooking class in LA within the next year.

I hope you’ll join us on these new adventures and stay in touch to find out where we go next!


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Where Chefs Eat in NYC, 2010 Round-up, Part 1

Of all the posts I’ve written, the most popular have consistently been about where chefs eat in NYC. Since it’s been so long since the original list was posted, I’ve got too many additions to cover at once. The following is Part 1 of (at least) a two-part series – this list is for serious eating (you might call this the Downtown Edition), the next will be the Drinking Edition.

Without further ado – here it goes… Where the chefs (aka Me & My Friends – yes, we are “real” chefs) eat in NYC. Enjoy!

1. Salt: (58 Macdougal btw Prince & Houston) The space is comfy and inviting. The food is exceptionally flavorful, well-made, and satisfying. Chef Melissa O’Donnell (FCI Alum) is as gracious as she is talented. Seating is mostly communal, but still intimate. Share appetizers like the bacon-wrapped dates in warm honey or the chicken liver mousse with crostini and caramelized onion compote. I recently reviewed the restaurant for Eat Something Sexy, so click here for the full review.

2. Ed’s Lobster Bar: (222 Lafayette btw Broome and Spring) I think I eat here more than any other restaurant. Ed’s can’t be beat for grabbing a quick bite and a beer on the way home from work (even on the late nights), or for a luxurious meal – whatever your pleasure. We recently celebrated Zak Pelaccio (Fatty Crab, etc.) winning the FCI Outstanding Alumni Award with a blowout comfort food-fest at Ed’s. Only thing missing was Ed himself, who is also an FCI alumni. Some personal favorites: oyster & bacon sliders, any of John’s Specials on Wednesday nights, and of course the lobster roll (with Ed’s vinegary pickles & fries).

3. Emporio: (231 Mott Street btw Spring and Prince) Like visiting the real Italy in (what used to be) Little Italy. The food here is so good and the service is so gracious that even the extremely persnickity Swedish Chef loves it here! Snack on the breaded olives and wild mushroom risotto croquettes with a glass of Prosecco before digging into crisp aromatic pizzas, fluffy gnocchi with mushroom ragu, juicy chicken cooked under a brick… Chef/owner Ricardo Buittoni can do no wrong!

4. Kin Shop: (469 6th Avenue btw 11 & 12 Streets) Chef Harold Dieterle takes on a second restaurant. We ate here last night for the first time. I have a feeling this is going to be a regular part of our rotation… the food is that addictive. Especially the spicy duck laab salad – so spicy it comes with multiple warnings. If you can’t stand the heat, stay away. If you like to play with fire, you will be rewarded with bursts of flavor from the rich duck, bright acidity, cool fresh cilantro, and the most exquisite burn of the chiles – you will have no doubt of the aphrodisiac properties of a good chile after experiencing this dish! Have an order of crispy roti and chile jam to keep things cool (a nice bottle of Vouvray helped as well!) The fried pork and crispy oyster salad is a fantastic choice for the chile-averse. So far, I’ve only tried two entrees – the pan-fried crab noodles were great but the Massaman braised goat stole the show! I’m planning a few more trips to taste my way through all the other dishes I had to pass up this time – can’t wait!

Posted in Manhattan, Restaurants | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Cranberry-Almond Tart

For those of you who, like me, put some things off until the very last minute… or for those looking for a great use for leftover cranberry sauce, here’s a recipe for my favorite fall dessert.

Photo of cranberries by Jill Matsuyama on Flickr -

Cranberry-Almond Tart

 Serves 6-8

 1 – 9 inch Pie Crust:

 1 1/2 cups All-purpose flour

1 tablespoon sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

4 ounces (1 stick) butter, cold, cut in cubes

1 egg mixed with 1/2 tablespoon water

Iced water, if needed

 Egg wash (one egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water)

 Combine all the dry ingredients in the bowl of a food processor. Add the cold butter cubes and pulse until sandy in texture (do not run at full speed). Add the egg and water mixture; pulse until moist clumps form. If the mixture is still dry, add very small amounts of iced water, pulsing between additions, until most of the flour is absorbed.

 Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Form a disk; wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Can be made in advance.

 Roll the dough on a lightly floured surface to a diameter approximately 2 inches larger than your tart (or pie) pan; approximately 1/4 inch thick. Press into pan, careful not to tear; trim excess dough. Flute edges if desired. Refrigerate for at least 15 minutes.

 Preheat oven to 350. Prick bottom of tart shell, line with parchment paper, fill with dry beans or pie weights. Bake for 10-15 minutes. Remove weights and parchment, egg wash the bottom of the shell and return to oven for 10 more minutes, or until light golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool. (Reserve remaining egg wash)


 1 bag of fresh cranberries, picked over and cleaned

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup red jam or jelly (any berry)

1 cinnamon stick

Pinch of salt

1 tablespoon of liquid (orange juice, port wine, or water)

4 sheets of Gelatin, softened in cold water (or 1 tablespoon powdered gelatin bloomed in ¼ cup cold water)

 Combine all ingredients except the gelatin in a heavy-bottom sauce pan; cook over medium-low heat for 20-30 minutes until thick and syrupy. Remove from heat, stir in softened/bloomed gelatin until dissolved, then cool. Should be a jam-like consistency when finished.


 4 ounces (1 stick) butter, softened

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 eggs

1 cup finely ground almonds

1 tablespoon all purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

  Heat oven to 350. Cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the vanilla. Add the eggs, one at a time. Fold in the ground almonds, flour and salt with a sturdy whisk.

 Pour into tart shell (may be more than you’ll need). Bake in center of oven for approximately 30 minutes or until golden brown and set (like firm Jell-O when tapped). Remove from oven, egg wash the top and return to the oven for an additional 5 minutes.  Remove from oven, cool for 15 minutes.

 Less than 1 hour before serving, spread cranberry topping evenly over the top – not too thick, you may have more than you need.

 Can be served warm or cool. Store covered in the refrigerator.


Posted in Chef's Night Off, Cooking | Tagged , | Leave a comment