Sunday 7 August, 2011, Cortona, Tuscany: life is funny! I had come to meet Debi and Gabriele and ended up in the audience of their TV program Extra Virgin on the Cooking channel. It was quite a new and interesting experience and turned out to be a perfect way to learn more about this Italo/American couple. The
dishes to prepare were zucchini with shrimp risotto and bresaola- rucola-peach-onion-salad, (the latter not exactly what a Tuscan would go for). The location, a court of a medieval palace, was very refined, the crew friendly and professional, the flower bouquet, table cloth and kitchen utensils showed class and good taste. After having been told by a friendly young lady where and how to sit down and the final technical checks on light and sound had been done, Gabriele and Debi started cooking. At least three quarters of the audience had
their own recipe but we were all curious to learn what kind of personal touch they would confer to it. While Gabriele heated olive oil in a large skillet and sautéed the shallots he explained us why he was doing what he was doing and between a handful of rice and a cup of vegetable stock he shared one of his kitchen secrets: a little Parmigiano Reggiano to add flavor, even to fish dishes, an outrageous faux-pas for an authentic Tuscan but actually a very good idea. Debi, after having prepared the shrimp, was ready to mix the salad ingredients and dress all. The atmosphere was relaxing and while they went on cooking we learnt more about where they met and when they married, how many
children they have, what they believe in, why they love cooking and how they divide their life between Los Angeles and Florence. I felt that they were rather talking about love, respect, complicity and support. Time flew and in a moment Gabriele sprinkled a drizzle of Extra Virgin Olive Oil over the risotto ready to be served to all of us. Now the young lady who had invited us to sit down earlier wanted our opinion. It may sound expected but we really did like the rice and we all judged Gabriele and Debi’s cooking as very enjoyable. (We give no feedback about the salad…). At the end of the program we were ready to leave with a new zucchini shrimp rice recipe and a good feeling when thinking about Debi and Gabriele. They are definitely “Extra Virgins” or VIP’s = Very Interesting People.
Anneliese Rabl …. finding a life in Tuscany