Allegrini Cook-Off for a Cause


© 2012 Simone Da’Silva – All rights reserved

Earlier this week I had the pleasure of attending Cook-Off for a Cause, a food and wine competition sponsored by Italy’s Allegrini wines. The event was held at Cookhouse, a venue in North Beach designed for culinary entertaining. Perched above Vesuvio, the sundrenched room featured an open kitchen where we could watch the chefs in action. The objective was to determine which dish paired best with the featured wine: Allegrini Palazzo della Torre. The winner would receive $3000 to a charity of his choice, with second and third place receiving $2000 and $1000, respectively.

© 2012 Simone Da’Silva – All rights reserved

The three participating chefs included Chef David Bazirgan of Fifth Floor, Chef Ruggero Gadaldi of Beretta, and Chef Randy Lutz of Ame. Those of us in attendance—mainly media folk and people in the food and wine industry—had the oh-so-difficult job of devouring each dish and ranking it based on three factors: taste, originality, and how well it paired with the wine.

© 2012 Simone Da’Silva – All rights reserved

And speaking of the wine, Allegrini Palazzo della Torre is well-respected indeed; it has made Wine Spectator’s Top 100 list six times—the most of any European wine, period. With a palatial estate in the Valpolicella region in northern Italy (just outside Verona), the wine’s blend is 70% Corvina Veronese, 25% Rondinella and 5% Sangiovese. It drinks incredibly smooth, and the 2008 vintage clocks in at a reasonable $20 a bottle. In San Francisco, you can find it in several stores including Bevmo, Costco, CalMart, San Francisco Wine Trading Co., and William Cross Wine Merchants.

Below are the dishes:

Fallon Hills Ranch Lamb with Smoked Potato Puree, Fig Vinaigrette and Baby Mustard Greens
Chef David Bazirgan, Fifth Floor
Charity: The San Francisco Child Abuse Prevention Center

© 2012 Lauren Hill – All rights reserved

California King Salmon with Red Wine & Swiss Chard
Chef Ruggero Gadaldi, Beretta
Charity: Bayview Mission, providing food and supplies to residents of Bayview/Hunters Point neighborhoods

© 2012 Lauren Hill – All rights reserved

Fried Miyagi Oysters on Pork Belly in Black Vinegar Sauce
Chef Randy Lutz, Ame
Charity: Chefs Unite Fund for Japan Relief, supporting the Northern Japan Earthquake Relief Fund

© 2012 Lauren Hill – All rights reserved

I was impressed by the culinary creativity exhibited by each chef and team. Everything tasted fantastic, which made it personally hard for me to rank each dish. Votes more heavily weighted came from the official judging panel comprised of Master Sommelier Catherine Fallis, W. Blake Gray of The Gray Report, and Marilisa Allegrini, co-owner of Allegrini and charming hostess of the event.

Randy Lutz, Marilisa Allegrini, David Bazirgan, Ruggero Gadaldi © 2012 Simone Da’Silva

In the end, Chef David Bazirgan of Fifth Floor took home the grand prize. The richness of the lamb (and accompanying pork belly) perfectly complemented the subtle acidity of the wine. Randy Lutz’s oyster dish took second place and Ruggero Gadaldi’s salmon took third. But the chefs and their charities weren’t the only winners here…I’d venture to say those of us lucky enough to be spending a sunny Monday afternoon drinking wine and sampling delectable cuisine were winners as well.

© 2012 Simone Da’Silva – All rights reserved

Marilisa Allegrini and David Bazirgan © 2012 Simone Da’Silva – All rights reserved

Special thanks to Marilisa Allegrini, Lane PR, Winebow, and the staff at Cookhouse.


Fifth Floor Official Website

Beretta Official Website

Ame Official Website

Photography © 2012 Simone Da’Silva – All rights reserved

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