Risotto and Beyond: The Heartfelt History of Italian Rice

Presented by Chef John Coletta and Monica Kass Rogers

Please join us for a rice tell-all with one of Chicago’s most eminent chefs, John Coletta, and writer/photographer Monica Kass Rogers, who collaborated to write the just-published cookbook “Risotto and Beyond.”

Here’s what’s on our menu for you:

You’ll get a generous slice of Italian rice history—including stories of a smuggling Jesuit priest, the Sforzas, lords of Milan who used advice from Leonardo da Vinci to start building the canals to help reclaim the wetlands for growing rice, and le mondine, the female rice workers who planted and weeded the rice.

You’ll learn about varieties of Italian rice, and which work best in different types of recipes. You’ll hear stories from Chef John about his own love affair with Italian rice—from the Italian rice snacks and soups his mother made when he was growing up in Queens, to the hearty dishes he learned to make from Italian rice growers.

And after you’ve digested this savory food for thought, you’ll get to taste a sampling of chef Coletta’s recipes from his new book, hailed as a definitive guide to cooking with Italian rice. The volume features 100 of Chef Coletta’s gluten-free rice recipes for everything from appetizers to soups, salads, main courses and desserts, along with a guide to the many varieties of Italian rice.

John Coletta is executive chef and managing partner of Chicago’s Quartino Ristorante & Wine Bar. A native New Yorker, Chef Coletta served apprenticeships at Manhattan’s Waldorf Astoria Hotel, and Four Seasons Restaurant and went to Europe to work under world-renowned chefs Alain Ducasse and Joel Rubuchon. Returning to America, Chef Coletta reigned over an army of over 450 cooks at Caeser’s Palace in Las Vegas, then continued in executive chef positions in Sydney Australia and Singapore. An individual gold medalist in the 1984 Culinary Olympics, he snared another gold medal in Frankfurt, Germany in 1992 as part of the Culinary Olympic Team U.S.A. In 2004 Chef Coletta opened Quartino in Chicago, showcasing rustic Italian recipes, many of which date back 200 years. In addition to his risotto cookbook, Chef Coletta also authored “250 True Italian Pasta Dishes.”

Monica Kass Rogers became a full-time magazine writer and editor in the 1980’s, writing for national food magazines. She switched to freelance writing and photography while she raised four children, At one point she was simultaneously freelance writing for six different sections of the Chicago Tribune, addressing sustainability, women’s issues, gardening, business, architecture and food. Monica also has a blog on vintage recipes: lostrecipesfound.com. Monica’s first book collaboration, with Chef Coletta, came about after the beloved foodwriter Nancy Ross Ryan died suddenly. Monica helped complete the risotto book by interviewing rice experts and chefs in Italy, and learning from Chef Coletta about his recipes. Monica also tested the recipes and photographed the scenic views of Italy and took several of the food shots.

Saturday, June 2, 2018
10 a.m. to noon
At Louis Weiss Memorial Hospital
Auditorium, lower level
4646 N. Marine Drive (at Wilson), Chicago

(Signs will say “Permit Parking” and “Doctor’s Lot” but it’s OKAY for YOU to use on this Saturday!)

Cost of the lecture program is $5, $3 for students and no charge for CHC members,
faculty and students of Kendall college, and Weiss staff and faculty.

To reserve, please e-mail your reservation: Culinary.Historians@gmail.com