Cooking up a storm

Not old enough to vote or drink, but kids sure can cook: Young chefs display talent in culinary competition

Not old enough to vote or drink, but these young chefs sure can cook

53 The Bruschetta Team, from left, Robert Wood, Antonio Vetrini and JohnMicheal Lynch and Diego Sarmiento at Tutti ai Fornelli de La Piccola Cucina March 2015
Bruschetta Team members Robert Wood, from left, Antonio Vetrini, Diego Sarmiento and chef JohnMicheal Lynch. Photo by © Roswitha Vogler/Photosbyrovo.com
65 Domenica Sepe of Raviolo Team at Tutti ai Fornelli de La Piccola Cucina March 2015
Domenica Sepe of the Raviolo Team. Photo by © Roswitha Vogler/Photosbyrovo.com
158 Cannolo Team from left Pier Francesco Papi, Veronica Pascucci, Executive Chef Fabio Potenzano and Giulia Sdingola at Tutti ai Fornelli de La Piccola Cucina March 2015
Cannolo Team members Pier Francesco Papi, from left, chef Fabio Potenzano, Veronica Pascucci and Giulia Sdingola. Photo by © Roswitha Vogler/Photosbyrovo.com
82 The Raviolo Team from left Ludovica Duchini, Emilio Fronza, Executive Chef Maurizio Ferrarese and Domenica Sepe at Tutti ai Fornelli de La Piccola Cucina March 2015
Raviolo Team members Ludovica Duchini, from left, Emilio Fronza, chef Maurizio Ferrarese and Domenica Sepe. Photo by © Roswitha Vogler/Photosbyrovo.com
143 Emilio Fronza of Raviolo Team at Tutti ai Fornelli de La Piccola Cucina March 2015
Emilio Fronza of Team Raviolo. Photo by © Roswitha Vogler/Photosbyrovo.com
76 Alberto Baffoni and Chiara Cattano at Tutti ai Fornelli de La Piccola Cucina March 2015
Chef Alberto Baffoni and Chiara Cattano of the Spiedino Team. Photo by © Roswitha Vogler/Photosbyrovo.com
154 Bruscretta Team Diego Sarmiento, Robert Wood and Executive Chef JohnMicheal Lynch at Tutti ai Fornelli de La Piccola Cucina March 2015
Bruschetta Team members Diego Sarmiento, from left, Robert Wood and chef JohnMicheal Lynch. Photo by © Roswitha Vogler/Photosbyrovo.com
161 From left Tiziana Triolo Director of Programs and Marketing of the Italian Cultural & Community Center, Domenica Sepe, Executive Chef Maurizio Ferrarese , Emilio Fronza and Ludovica Duchini at Tutti ai Fornelli de La Piccola Cucina March 2015
Tiziana Triolo, from left, Domenica Sepe, Maurizio Ferrarese, Emilio Fronza and Ludovica Duchini. Photo by © Roswitha Vogler/Photosbyrovo.com
96 The Spiedino Team from left Sadie Weller, Camilla Manning, Executive Chef Alberto Baffoni and Chiara Cattano at Tutti ai Fornelli de La Piccola Cucina March 2015
Spiedino Team members Sadie Weller, from left, Camilla Manning, chef Alberto Baffoni and Chiara Cattano. Photo by © Roswitha Vogler/Photosbyrovo.com
32 The Cannolo Team, from left, Fabio Potenzano, Pier Francesco Papi, Veronica Pascucci and Giulia Sdingola at Tutti ai Fornelli de La Piccola Cucina March 2015
Cannolo Team members chef Fabio Potenzano, from left, Pier Francesco Papi, Veronica Pascucci and Giulia Sdingola. Photo by © Roswitha Vogler/Photosbyrovo.com
53 The Bruschetta Team, from left, Robert Wood, Antonio Vetrini and JohnMicheal Lynch and Diego Sarmiento at Tutti ai Fornelli de La Piccola Cucina March 2015
65 Domenica Sepe of Raviolo Team at Tutti ai Fornelli de La Piccola Cucina March 2015
158 Cannolo Team from left Pier Francesco Papi, Veronica Pascucci, Executive Chef Fabio Potenzano and Giulia Sdingola at Tutti ai Fornelli de La Piccola Cucina March 2015
82 The Raviolo Team from left Ludovica Duchini, Emilio Fronza, Executive Chef Maurizio Ferrarese and Domenica Sepe at Tutti ai Fornelli de La Piccola Cucina March 2015
143 Emilio Fronza of Raviolo Team at Tutti ai Fornelli de La Piccola Cucina March 2015
76 Alberto Baffoni and Chiara Cattano at Tutti ai Fornelli de La Piccola Cucina March 2015
154 Bruscretta Team Diego Sarmiento, Robert Wood and Executive Chef JohnMicheal Lynch at Tutti ai Fornelli de La Piccola Cucina March 2015
161 From left Tiziana Triolo Director of Programs and Marketing of the Italian Cultural & Community Center, Domenica Sepe, Executive Chef Maurizio Ferrarese , Emilio Fronza and Ludovica Duchini at Tutti ai Fornelli de La Piccola Cucina March 2015
96 The Spiedino Team from left Sadie Weller, Camilla Manning, Executive Chef Alberto Baffoni and Chiara Cattano at Tutti ai Fornelli de La Piccola Cucina March 2015
32 The Cannolo Team, from left, Fabio Potenzano, Pier Francesco Papi, Veronica Pascucci and Giulia Sdingola at Tutti ai Fornelli de La Piccola Cucina March 2015

It was no mere pizza pie for the very young chefs that gathered at the University of Houston Hilton Hotel to showcase their cooking skills. Think polenta ravioli with braised veal cheeks, smoked saltimbocca with spaetzle and gnocco fritto with prosciutto. And then there was the lavish cannoli dessert.

The Italian Cultural & Community Center hosted the "Tutti ai Fornelli de La Piccola Cucina," a cooking competition comprised for four teams of junior chefs, aged 3 to 13, each paired with an executive chef of Italian heritage. Each team prepared a dinner course for the evening that served as a fundraiser for center programs.

Leading the cooking teams were Maurizio Ferrarese of the Four Seasons Hotel, Alberto Baffoni of Mascalzone, JohnMicheal Lynch of  Hotel Granduca's Ristorante Cavour and Fabio Potenzano, a resident of Palermo, Italy, and a member of the Italian National Culinary Team.

It was Potenzano's team that received top honors for their dessert course — cannolo layers with mixed berries, almond cookie with passito sauce and pistachio semifreddo with Modica chocolate sauce.

“It was an evening of education and fun for a great cause,” said Tiziana Triolo, director of programs and marketing for the center. “I’m very proud of my students, not only for their culinary abilities, but especially for their support to the center. When I designed the program, I had only one thing in mind: Teaching Italian language and culture to young generations of all nationalities."

The team of judges, chaired by chef and food expert Renato De Pirro, was as impressive as the young culinary stars. They included the cultural attaché from the Italian Consulate in San Francisco Paola Ebranati, food and wine writer and journalist Mike Ricetti Dr. Cristiana Rastellini, and Salvatore Albelice, owner of Sunbelt Inc. and Fellini Caffé.   

Donning chefs toques for the evening were Pier Francesco Papi, Veronica Pascucci, Giulia Sdringola, Ludovica Duchini, Emilio Fronza, Domenica Sepe, Diego Sarmiento, Antonio Vetrini and Robert Wood, Chiara Cattano, Camilla Manning and Sadie Weller.

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