Stefano Masanti, a Michelin-star chef from Italy, was in St. Helena last week to lay the groundwork for a guest chef residence he'll be doing at V. Sattui Winery from April 11 to Nov. 6.
Masanti and his wife, Raffaella, are the owners of Il Cantinone restaurant in the ski resort village of Madesimo in the Italian Alps. Longtime friends of the Sattui family, they came to the winery last year with a team of chefs to prepare the food for the winery's 125th anniversary Harvest Ball.
Il Cantinone has been named one of the best 60 restaurants in Italy and top 10 in Lombardia by L'Espresso guide to Italian restaurants. Masanti was also named the Chef of the Year at the 2014 Merano Wine Festival.
V. Sattui Winery in St. Helena is one of few Napa Valley wineries that are permitted to hold weddings. For 28 years, they have been booking both weddings and receptions at the winery.
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During his guest residence at Sattui, Masanti will be overseeing food for weddings, and on a quick visit he invited couples who are planning weddings to come to the Sattui kitchens for a preview of different menu items.
While sipping sparkling wine, the brides and bridegrooms sampled items like buckwheat blini and homemade breadsticks with V. Sattui Salumeria Prosciutto -- just a few of the choices from eight pages of possibilities.
"This is so much fun," said Anna Murphy from Walnut Creek, who came to the tasting with her fiance, Isaac Fletcher. "You never get to go into the kitchens and see the chef at work."
Fletcher, between munching on fried oysters and fresh-made raviolis, added, "I just don't know how we'll ever choose."
Masanti, a member of the International Slow Food organization, is a strong proponent of cooking with local ingredients and had designed menus to showcase the products he discovered on his visits to Napa Valley. In Italy, Gambero Rosso, an Italian wine and food production, has named Il Cantinone a best restaurant that promotes local food and farmers.