RED BANK: BASIE WHETS THE ‘APPETITE’

jacques-pepinCristianCeppasCeleb chef Jacques Pépin, above, gets things cooking at the Basie this afternoon. (Photo by Christian Ceppas)

appetiteContinuing with the ever-eclectic menu of entertainments that has distinguished and defined its audience-pleasing mission, the Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank serves up a new slate of offerings under the “Appetite Chefs” series banner in coming hours and days, starting with a matinee appearance Saturday by the Original Iron Chef himself and continuing next Wednesday by a beloved master of Italian cuisine.

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SHREWSBURY: SLOW FOOD FOR WINTER

 casey pesce d'jeetCasey Pesce, in the d’jeet? kitchen, tells PieHole that winter is a time to slow things down a bit. (Photo by Jim Willis. Click to enlarge)

By JIM WILLIS

PieHole reveres the home cook. We know that the most important food is the food you eat everyday, not the occasional expensive plate of vertical food approved by a Michelin Guide.

And so it goes with home cooking in December that we sit here and look at our barren garden, the summer’s herbs buried under a blanket of white, and try to conjure an answer to that daily question: “What’s good to eat?”

PieHole checked in at d’jeet? in Shrewsbury’s Grove shopping center to see if with chef/owner Casey Pesce had any inspiration to offer home cooks around the Green.

“That’s what I love,” says Pesce. “I love eating something that someone has made at home.”

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RED BANK: CHOWING DOWN AT THE COUNT

Bloody Marys, ribs, wine, doughnuts, bourbon, coffee: Red Bank’s Count Basie Theatre had all that and more for hundreds of eaters and drinkers this weekend. Its four-day Appetite festival included a live pasta throwdown between restaurateur Victor Rallo and Mayor Pasquale Menna on Saturday night. Rallo won the cooking contest to see who could make the better dish in 30 minutes, but it was close, requiring a tiebreaking vote. (Photos by Peter Lindner, except for Rallo-Menna.)

FOODFEST TO SERVE UP A PASTA SMACKDOWN

Red Bank Mayor Pasquale Menna, seen above at a 2007 primary school function featuring his cooking, faces restaurateur Victor Rallo, below, in a stovetop showdown at the Basie next Saturday.  (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

One’s a municipal chief executive with a “total amateur’s” love of cooking – though he does have a chef’s smock with his name embroidered on the breast.

The other’s a serial restaurateur and wine expert who hosts a TV food show set in lush Italian locales.

The premise: a pasta smackdown cooking event pitting Red Bank Mayor Pasquale Menna against Victor Rallo, owner of Basil T’s in Red Bank, Undici Taverna Rustica in Rumson – and newsboy-cap wearing star of ‘Eat! Drink! Italy‘ on public TV.

The Saturday-night faceoff, on the stage of the venerable Count Basie Theatre, is one of the highlights of a four-day food smorgasbord – dubbed Appetite – that also features wine tastings, Scotch and bourbon swilling, a bevy of food trucks, screenings of food-themed movies and more.

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SENIORS GET A NEW TAKE ON BURGERS

Residents and staffers at the Atrium line up for burgers and fixings Wednesday. (Photo by Wil Fulton. Click to enlarge)

By WIL FULTON

The chef from Beasty Burgers, one of Red Bank’s suddenly-ubiquitous burger joints, popped in at the Atrium at Navesink Harbor Wednesday to showcase his restaurant and teach the senior-citizen residents a thing or two about the state of the modern burger.

Mike Ross gave a short presentation on his innovative menu and cooking methods, and also offered advice on spicing up old favorites while letting the residents and Atrium workers sample some of his delicious burgers and side-dishes.

“Everyone knows that french fries go with burgers – it’s pretty much a given nowadays,” Ross told a packed conference room at the luxury high-rise on Riverside Avenue. “At Beasty, we try to show people that there are so many great complements to burgers besides the standard order of french fries.”

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CLASSES KEEP IT FRESH AT LUNCH BREAK


Cooking instructor Roseanne Monroe shows her cooking class the dragon fruit she picked up at the market to use as an artistic element in a dish. (Photos by Stacie Fanelli. Click to enlarge.)

By STACIE FANELLI

The small serenity garden outside Lunch Break is a quiet place for locals to relax, unwind and sometimes even nap. But Roseanne Monroe knows about a few other gems it holds: basil, garlic, chives, figs and “oodles of tomatoes,” for starters.

In the middle of the Red Bank soup kitchen’s weekly adult cooking demonstration of gazpacho last Thursday, Monroe ran low on a few herbs in the recipe. So she just stepped outside to pick what she needed straight from the ground.

“It doesn’t get fresher than that,” she said. “To me, everything that comes out of the earth that we eat has a benefit.”

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ADULT ED? S’COOL!

peter-roskowinski_1Peter Roskowinski will show students how to make great Italian meals while a language teacher makes the experience bilingual. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

School seems less of a drag when you substitute reading, writing and arithmetic with cooking, wine making and learning Italian, doesn’t it?

That’s one benefit of being an adult student in the greater Red Bank area: all the fun classes at Red Bank Regional Adult School, which opens its fall semester next week. Registration is underway.

One of the highly anticipated new classes is a traveler’s dream called “Mangia—Speak and Eat Italian.” While restaurateur and former RBR Board of Education member Peter Roskowinski teaches how to cook Italian, a linguist will be teaching how to speak it. Roskowinski said he’ll his students how to whip up an authentic Italian dinner, mostly from scratch, yet quick and easy. In the meantime, his partner, Amy Wood, will translate English terms into Italian.

“It will be a total encompassing class with the Italian language,” Roskowinski said. “And everybody eats, so everybody has something in common. It should be a lot of fun.”

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