The Coral Gables Community Foundation Tour of Kitchen's closing event ended successfully with a cooking demonstration performed by Eating House chef and "Chopped" winner, Giorgio Rapicavoli, on Saturday, January 25th.
After being introduced to an eager crowd by Coral Gables Commissioner Frank Quesada at Ferguson's Bath and Lighting Gallery around 2:30 p.m., Eating House chef Giorgio Rapicavoli proceeded to wow spectators by preparing the famous dirt cup served at his restaurant on Ponce and 8th street.
"Since this is a dessert event, I thought I would make the dirt cup we make at the restaurant," explained Rapicavoli. "I would like to try new things and experiment, but people seem to enjoy this."
The large audience gathered around, as the young chef proceeded to sprinkle sugar into a skillet, to create caramel sauce for the dish. With the assistance of a Ferguson's employee (who turned on the burner), he proceeded to melt the sugar, with water, until it became a deep color, eventually adding heavy cream and salt.
"I am half Italian and half Argentinian, so I like the flavor profile of the dark caramel," explained Rapicavoli.
He spooned Nutella into a bowl and incorporated heavy whipping cream with a spatula until it was the desired consistency. He then poured this mixture, with nary a drop spilling, into a stainless steel nitrous oxide device, used to whip up the volume of liquids.
The charming and self deprecating Rapicavoli talked about how he began in the restaurant business, executing the lowest level positions at Chispa in Coral Gables and moving on to Chispa in Doral.
"We all know how that story ended. The doors on Chispa closed," said Rapicavoli.
He moved on to 660 at The Angler, where he took on positions of more responsibility. During this period, he was encouraged to appear on the Food Network show "Chopped", where he became the first contestant from Miami to win the contest.
With his winnings, he opened a pop-up restaurant at Café Ponce in Coral Gables. It was open for dinner, after Café Ponce finished for the day.
"For any of you who ate there when it was a pop-up, I apologize for the craziness," he said.
It doesn't appear that diners minded, since the success of that pop-up resulted in the permanent restaurant that is now the popular Eating House.
As Rapicavoli constructed the dirt cup (made in ceramic pots purchased at Ikea), he layered crushed pretzels, salted caramel sauce, whipped Nutella and finished it off with crushed chocolate cookies. He garnished the top of the dessert with sprigs of lemon balm and thyme, making at whimsical addition to the delicious dirt cup.
Hungry audience members dug in to taste his creation.
Rapicavoli was patient and friendly, answering questions from the audience, and not allowing the noisy conditions of the crowd, to rattle him during his demo. Unlike the Gordon Ramsey stereotype of a temperamental and angry chef, he was a pleasant and affable young man.
He also discussed future plans to open a new restaurant (tapas-style) north of Ponce, as well as developing more concepts in the future.
The Miami Dining Examiner was pleased to serve as the restaurant chair at the Coral Gables Tour of Kitchens this year and very pleased she got to witness the Eating House chef in action.