Well, it’s that time of year again — time to gather the family and friends and create lasting memories with the ones you love. Often- times, it is easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of everyday life, so much so that you can lose touch with what is most important. But the holiday season grants us the opportunity to take a step back and reconnect, and what better way to do that than spending the day preparing and dining on your very own holiday feast made with love in your very own kitchen. Nobody knows holiday dinners better than the Four Seasons Cielo Restaurant Executive Chef Gian Nicola Colucci, and this year, he will be leading a class on just that.
“We’re going to build a class around the Christmas dinner and bringing the whole family around the table,” Colucci says. “This is something that we do often in Italy.” However, no matter where you hail from, food has the power to bring people together and that’s just what the holidays are for.
“Traditionally, everywhere in the country that I’ve been I saw a different way of presenting the food,” he says. “But obviously the family-style dinner, presenting all the food on a big table and the concept of passing the plate from person to person is the feeling that we’re trying to achieve.”
You’ll certainly have a lot of plates to pass once you’re through with this class. Over the course of the evening, Chef Colucci will take you through each process from beginning to end, starting with the preparation and culminating in dessert, making sure to elaborate on each detail. “I try to teach a little of everything in each course,” Colucci says. “With the branzino, I teach them knife skills, how to clean, cut and portion the sh.With the turkey, how to brine, how to prepare and each style of preparation. I like to pass on as much knowledge as I can so the people can take it home and apply it to their own cooking.”
Though we’re all free to add our own touches to our holiday dinners, there are definitely some tried and true ways to elicit Christmas cheer.
“A lot of red and a lot of gold,” says Colucci. “For me, thinking about Christmas, spices like cinnamon, cardamom, and nutmeg remind me of this time of year. Just the smell of cinnamon reminds me of Christmastime.”
The last part of the class will include an Italian classic dessert called panettone, a loaf of sweet bread commonly enjoyed during the holidays. In years past, Colucci has prepared both a chocolate flavor as well as a cranberry-orange flavor with a cream made from mascarpone. He also recommends pairing a hearty dinner with prosecco or another sweet, bubbly wine and capping o the night with a glass of champagne to add a certain “merriment” to your already merry Christmas.When all is said and done, you will have prepared a veritable banquet t for any family gathering and learned a lot along the way.
“The beautiful part of this kind of cooking class is that at home, we are all related — parents, children, cousins — but in this moment, we are not related,” explains the chef. “During the class, strangers become friends, and that is the power of food.”
Having grown up on a farm in his home country of Italy, Chef Colucci is a firm believer in that power.
“That’s really the goal of the course—not only to give everyone more confidence in their cooking skills—but to cook together as friends,” he says. “What my family taught me is that it’s more important to cook together than to eat together.To cook together is to become family.You enjoy each other from the beginning to the end; you enjoy the food you made together.”
So come and make some food together with Chef Colucci at the Four Seasons at 6 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 10. Learn what it takes to cook with those you love, and maybe forge some new friendships in the process, for it is the season of giving and goodwill toward all people. M