You can’t be a Chef without a Community

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Food and the community go together like peanut butter and jelly, like rice and beans, like chicken and dumplings (which was on the menu last night).  And at the first Guest Chef Event at Downtown Pasta, that sense of community was alive and kicking.

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The winning recipe, submitted by Patti Creghan-Ciuffetelli of Unionville, PA was a sweet and savory combination of  blueberries and gorgonzola that photographed beautifully and tasted even better.  It reminded me that we are right on the heels of summer and all of it’s fresh fruit and culinary beauty.  It is an understatement to say that Patti worked some serious magic at Downtown Pasta last night.  When we selected the winning recipe, we looked for something that stood out from the others, something that was fresh and vibrant with exceptional flavors.  Little did we know that the chef was going to mirror those specifications precisely.

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Patti works passionately in Southern Chester County with both the Chester County Intermediate Unit as a vocation specialist and with Chester County Futures as a 9th grade coordinator at Oxford High School.  Most of the students within the Futures program are first generation college students and with the assistance of Patti, students like Omar Gonzalez pursue an academic career outside of high school.  It was magnificent (and unplanned!) to see Omar, a recent culinary school graduate and chef at Downtown Pasta, work side by side with Patti prepping her winning appetizer.

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“Food makes people happy and brings family and friends together,” said Patti.  And let me tell you, her happiness filled the entire restaurant last night.  She worked the room throughout service, saying hello to her supporters and serving those whom she was meeting for the first time.  It was the true definition of bringing the community together through food.

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And while the community enjoyed the signature Lazy Susan appetizer spreads in the dining room, I had the pleasure of quietly observing the back of the house and the community that exists there.  It never fails to amaze me how rhythmic and harmonious a professional kitchen can run.  I have found that most great chefs have an inherent ability to precisely orchestrate dinner service to achieve said rhythm.  The calculated timeliness and perfectionism that keeps people coming back is mesmerizing when you are a spectator.  I have not found, however, that most successful chefs are supportive of having a guest (or several) in the kitchen with the potential to interrupt that rhythm and perfection. And yet, there was not a second of frustration, a single eye roll, or even skip in the culinary music.  Not to mention, the noticeable and encouraging smiles, and plentitude of “Woo-hoo’s”, and “Go get em-s”.  Hats off to the entire staff for welcoming Patti with open arms and unending support.  I really can’t express how impressive that was to witness.

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Congratulations to Guest Chef Patti and to the entire staff at Downtown Pasta. You are, without a doubt, doing it right.

If you missed out on all of the fun last night, you can make Patti’s Blue and Blue Bruschetta (named for her love of blueberries and her love for Penn State) at home!  And make sure you stop by Downtown Pasta to let them know what you think!  Have an idea for an event of Bring It Home profile?  Let me know!  Email me at BakeVintage@gmail.com or send me a note on Facebook or Tweet Me!

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Blue and Blue Bruschetta

Serves 10

40 ½ inch thick baguette bread about 1 loaf
¼ cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
8 ounces Crumbled Gorgonzola Cheese
1/3 cup Chopped Pecans
¼ cup Chopped Green Onions
1/3 cup Dried Blueberries
¼ cup Honey

Preparation: Preheat the oven at 400 degrees F
Place the sliced baguettes on a baking sheet. Brush with the Extra Virgin Olive Oil and bake about 9 minutes until the bread is lightly toasted.
Toss the cheese, pecans, green onions and blueberries and spread evenly on the 40 baguettes pieces.
Bake an additional 3 minutes until cheese is melted.
Remove immediately from baking sheet and place on serving platter and drizzle honey over the warm cheese.

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