Thanks to Maynards Market & Kitchen, I had the opportunity to attend their delicious Italy Meets AZ six-course dinner. Italy has always held a special place in my heart and I was particularly excited to attend this dinner because the chef is from my study-abroad home in the beautiful town, Orvieto.
My fascination for Italy began when I learned about the Roman Empire in elementary school and from that moment on, I told myself I would study aboard in Italy. While a student at the University of Arizona, I decided to take a few semesters of Italian to prepare for my aspiring adventure. The College of Social and Behavioral Sciences Magellan Circle helped me achieve my goal by providing me with a scholarship to partially cover the costs of the trip. My adventure to Orvieto, Italy began!
The program was based in Orvieto but offered several trips to the different Italian cities. During the program I enjoyed studying advanced photojournalism with my journalism professor, Kim Newton, and intermediate Italian with my Italian professor, Beppe Cavatorta. However the most rewarding aspect of studying abroad in Italy was learning how to truly enjoy life. In the Italian culture, they savor every minute of life (culinary cuisine, art, wine… much wine), and it was a great reminder for me to do the same in the fast-pace world that we live in.
I’m tremendously grateful to the program founders, Alba Frascarelli, Claudio Bizzarri and Dr. David Soren for helping me accomplish one of my goals. Orvieto is unlike any other city, which is why I was excited to learn about Chef Simona’s background.
Maynards embraces Tucson’s recognition as one of 10 UNESCO Cities of Gastronomy and celebrates the culturally diverse food of the region by inviting worldly chefs to present a creative menu. The Guest Chef series debuted by inviting Chef Simona Fabrizio from Orvieto, Italy. Chef Simona immersed herself in the Tucson culture to gain a deeper understanding of the locally-sourced foods in the Sonoran region. Together, she collaborated with Maynards Executive Chef Brian Smith to craft a phenomenal dinner.
While all dishes were delicious down to the last intricate detail, there were favorites. My table couldn’t stop talking about the braised-short rib. It was definitely a close second for me but my ultimate favorite was the black ravioli with the ricotta and fresh figs. I love pasta but only in small quantities and this hand-made ravioli was the perfect umami blend of flavors: the creaminess of the ricotta with the sweetness of the figs, paired well with the slightly saltiness of the prosciutto.
In addition to the beautiful courses, the ambiance of the dinner matched that of the dishes. I loved how the table centerpieces included both Italian and local influences. I appreciated how much thought went into planning this dinner.
One of the exciting parts of the dinner was anticipating what dishes would be created. Maynards kept the menu a mystery until guests arrived to the dinner. The main reason for the mystery is because both the executive chef and guest chef collaborate together after the guest chef gets acquainted with Tucson. Together, they create a spontaneous dinner that reflects the two unique worlds coming together. The remaining three dinners will reflect the same spontaneous process to deliver fun creativity to the table. The next event of the series will take place on December 11.
“It was an honor to work with Chef Simona from Italy,” Chef Brian said.
“I look forward to welcoming more chefs from around the world to come
and experience our Sonoran desert.”