Risotto Never Tasted So Good

Celebrity NY chef helps pick the winners at International Risotto Festival

Celeb NY chef helps pick winners at International Risotto Festival

Risotto Festival Rocco DiSpirito with Scarlett
Celebrity chef Rocco DiSpirito with Scarlett James. Photo by Kim Coffman
Risotto Festival Christine Nguyen, Amanda Le, Jen Ong, Kelly Hoang
Christine Nguyen, Amanda Le, Jen Ong, Kelly Hoang. Photo by Kim Coffman
Risotto Festival Donae and Rob Chramosta
Risotto Festival chairs Donae Chramosta and Rob Chramosta. Photo by Kim Coffman
Risotto Festival Karina Barbieri, Yasmine Haddad
Karina Barbieri, Yasmine Haddad. Photo by Kim Coffman
Risotto Festival Justin Kouri and Scott Follmar
Winning chef Justin Kouri with Scott Follmar. Photo by Kim Coffman
Risotto Festival Kendra Garrett, Michael Pellegrino, Jamie Nevill
Kendra Garrett, Michael Pellegrino, Jamie Nevill. Photo by Kim Coffman
Risotto Festival Houston food
Risotto served in miniature pumpkins part of the tasting fun. Photo by Kim Coffman
Risotto Festival Miya Shay (son Winston) Corbett Parker
Miya Shay, Winston Wu, Corbett Parker. Photo by Kim Coffman
Risotto Festival Jennifer Brown, Richard Hancock
Jennifer Brown, Richard Hancock. Photo by Kim Coffman
Risotto Festival Matt Burrus & Michael Pearce
Matt Burrus, Michael Pearce and their children. Photo by Kim Coffman
Risotto Festival Jonathon Glus and Alton LaDay
Jonathon Glus, Alton LaDay. Photo by Kim Coffman
Risotto Festival Whitney and Maurizio Ferrarese
Whitney and chef Maurizio Ferrarese with their children. Photo by Kim Coffman
Risotto Festival Wogbe and (son) Isiah Ofori
Wogbe Ofori, Isiah Ofori. Photo by Kim Coffman
Risotto Festival Kelli Klasko, Jason Lewis, Lori Muller, Hugh Feuer
Kelli Klasko, Jason Lewis, Lori Muller, Hugh Feuer. Photo by Kim Coffman
Risotto Festival Jonathan Nessmith, Juliette Bloomer
Jonathan Nessmith, Juliette Bloomer. Photo by Kim Coffman
Risotto Festival Cary & Noelle Feldman
Cary Feldman, Noelle Feldman. Photo by Kim Coffman
Risotto Festival Rocco DiSpirito with Scarlett
Risotto Festival Christine Nguyen, Amanda Le, Jen Ong, Kelly Hoang
Risotto Festival Donae and Rob Chramosta
Risotto Festival Karina Barbieri, Yasmine Haddad
Risotto Festival Justin Kouri and Scott Follmar
Risotto Festival Kendra Garrett, Michael Pellegrino, Jamie Nevill
Risotto Festival Houston food
Risotto Festival Miya Shay (son Winston) Corbett Parker
Risotto Festival Jennifer Brown, Richard Hancock
Risotto Festival Matt Burrus & Michael Pearce
Risotto Festival Jonathon Glus and Alton LaDay
Risotto Festival Whitney and Maurizio Ferrarese
Risotto Festival Wogbe and (son) Isiah Ofori
Risotto Festival Kelli Klasko, Jason Lewis, Lori Muller, Hugh Feuer
Risotto Festival Jonathan Nessmith, Juliette Bloomer
Risotto Festival Cary & Noelle Feldman

New York-based celebrity chef Rocco Dispirito was just one element that wowed the throng of 800 who turned out at Houston Design Center for the 11th International Risotto Festival. Italian music and wines played backdrop to the coterie of chefs who whipped up tantalizing versions of the Italian specialty.

While guests grazed through the offerings, more than a dozen waited for the judges' decision on top honors. Dispirito led the team in the blind tasting. Going home with seriously full tummies were Elena Sgarbi, Consul General of Italy, and Marina Acquista Lapuvade, deputy secretary general of the Italian-American Chamber of Commerce.

In the end, it was Justin Kouri, representing Recipe for Success, who took top prize for his red beet risotto. Taking bows for next best were chef Maurizio Ferrarese of Quattro at the Four Seasons Hotel, chef John Sikhattana of Straits Asian Bistro and chef Scotty Campbell with Milestone Distributors. 

The event raised $100,000 for the Scarlett Fund for Pediatric Cancer Research at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, a cause close to the heart of festival chairs Donae Cangelosi Chramosta and Rob Chramosta and her parents, Nancy and Vito Cangelosi, who served as honorary chairs.

Special guests were Scarlett James, the funds namesake, and her parents Jennifer and Robert James.

Chefs joining the competition included Bart Black of Black's Market Table, Charles Clark of Ibiza, Ricky Cruz of Grotto, Carmelo Mauro of Carmelo’s, Greg Milo of  the Art Institute, Mario Valdez of  Oceanaire,  Michael Pellegrino of the Tasting Room City Centre, Carlos Ramos of Latin Bites, Mark Riley of Eric's Restaurant and  Luigi Shimaj of Arcodoro

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