Is there anything better than a walk in downtown Chicago when the flowers are in bloom and the weather is crystal clear? Yes, there is 🙂 To make your day even better, I encourage you check out the cooking demo schedule on Macy’s Culinary Council website before leaving home. If you’re in luck, you’ll catch a demo at Macy’s on State Street – the perfect destination for foodies and fashionistas alike.
Go downtown, eat fresh food made on the spot, and build memories to last a lifetime: That’s exactly what I did recently, when I visited Macy’s State Street to attend a cooking demonstration given by Chef Fabio Viviani 😉I’ve been a fan of Macy’s cooking demos for awhile now (you can check out the reviews of my previous experiences here and here). I find them educational, culturally enriching, and last but not least entertaining. Believe me: with Chef Viviani at the helm, this latest demo definitely satisfied all of the above criteria!
Chef Fabio Viviani became a household name in the US after his TV debut on Bravo’s hit series Top Chef. Originally from Florence, Italy, he owned and operated several restaurants and nightclubs in his hometown before moving to California in 2005. He opened his first USA based restaurant, then appeared on Top Chef – and the rest was history, as they say!
In 2013, Chef Viviani opened Siena Tavern in Chicago’s River North neighborhood. He continued to make a name for himself in the Windy City in 2015, when he opened Bar Siena and Prime & Provisions (the latter was recently named Chicago’s number #1 steakhouse by USA Today). In addition to his work as a chef and restaurateur, Chef Viviani is also a recurring guest on national TV shows such as Good Morning America, The Rachael Ray Show and The Chew, and Food Network shows such as Cutthroat Kitchen: All-Star Tournament.
Seeing Chef Viviani cook live and listening to his stories was rewarding from a variety of perspectives. First of all, I learned interesting facts about Italian ingredients, well-known dishes and the Italian way of life in general, which made me appreciate the cuisine even more. Chef Viviani’s storytelling is captivating, and his anecdotes resonate with the audience because they’re both informative and funny. By the way, did you know mortadella “is what bologna wants to be when it dies and goes to Heaven?” Great quote from Chef Viviani – or so I thought 🙂
Speaking of mortadella, here’s Chef Viviani’s fresh bean salad with roasted chickpeas, crispy mortadella bites and mustard vinaigrette, which he made and served during Macy’s cooking demo. It’s easy to assemble, vibrant, and chock full of bell peppers and pulses (some of my all-time favorite ingredients). You can find the recipe in Chef Viviani’s latest cookbook, and I highly recommend it!
Here are five more things I learned – and great quotes I wrote down! – during Chef Viviani’s demo:
- Canned artichokes are fine! Chef Viviani uses artichokes ever so often in his recipes, and he recommends canned artichokes in oil, not brine. The former have a better texture than the latter, and are not fully cooked.
- Blanched green vegetables will maintain their vibrant color if you add 1 tsp baking soda to the boiling water. Use sugar instead of baking soda if your veggies are red or yellow.
- Mascarpone cheese “is proof God is a foodie too”
- Leftover egg whites are great to use up in omelettes. I, for one, have really appreciated Chef Viviani’s perspective on the matter. It may not be new or revolutionary to some of you, but this common sense approach will definitely help me – you have to remember my go-to option for leftover egg whites has always been meringues, which everyone in this house hates! (lol)
- If you’re reluctant to use “ordinary” raw eggs to make tiramisu, pasteurized eggs will work just fine.
Chef Viviani’s tiramisu was the perfect dessert to end a perfect meal. It was creamy, slightly sweet (due to the addition of dolce de leche on top, yum!) and delicately elevated by a touch of cinnamon which left lingering notes of spice in your mouth.
I left Chef Viviani’s cooking demo inspired by what I had found out about Italian cuisine, and eager to cook more Italian food. I’m happy to report I made several dishes from Chef Viviani’s latest cookbook, and they were all a big success with my family:
I had a wonderful time at Macy’s latest cooking demo in downtown Chicago. I discovered recipes, found renewed inspiration, and encountered engaging storytelling. With spring in bloom and summer just around the corner, you can count on Macy’s cooking demos to brighten up your days just a touch more. Creating fun food-related memories has never been easier while out and about in Chi Town 🙂
*Disclaimer: While I received a complimentary tasting to facilitate this review, all opinions expressed here are my own.