Aleppo Sweets, Providence: One of Bon Appetit’s Top Fifty Restaurants of 2019

Walking into Aleppo Sweets was like walking into the Middle East itself. We were transported from the streets of Providence to a beautifully serene bakery in Syria, surrounded by the smell of spices, Middle-Eastern inspired architecture and the faint sound of fast-tempo Syrian music. As someone who loves tea, I was immediately drawn to the wall of tall copper tea kettles behind the counter, but then also to the cast-iron decorated windows above the seating area illuminating the lush green house plants hanging from the ceiling in morning light. I couldn’t help imagine if this was modeled after the chef, Youssef Akhtarini’s memories of his hometown before Civil War hit.

Soon after we sat down, plates and plates of food began to come out to us, beginning with traditional Syrian flat bread accompanied by three dishes of hummus, baba ghanoush and labneh to dip it in. Next to come out were the stuffed grape leaves and stuffed dates. I had tried stuffed grape leaves before and was excited to Akhtarini’s and was not disappointed, but what truly surprised me were the stuffed dates. In the past, I had not enjoyed dates, but these sweet dates stuffed with chopped pistachios, honey and dusted with cardamom spice truly defined my expectations. After this came the hardier, more spicy foods like the kefta lamb kabob, kibbeh, Syrian rice and falafel.

These dishes were all new to me but I thoroughly enjoyed them. Last came the moment we were all waiting for, Aleppo Sweet’s famous baklava. We were presented with a small platter of the nine types of baklava they serve, ranging from chocolate to pistachio to lady finger. I tried the walnut stuffed baklava and it was amazing. The heavy walnut filling between layers of crisp dough soaked in honey was like heaven. To end the meal, we were served slices of authentic pistachio ice cream on a dish. Its light flavor mixed with the rich taste of baklava.

It is easy to feel disconnected from some of the daily struggles that people across the world face in their daily lives. Our trip to Aleppo Sweets reminded me to be mindful of these struggles but also to celebrate the success Youssef Akhtarini has created for himself and his family despite the pain they endured in Syria. I was struck by his humility when we briefly met him at the end of our visit; he was self conscience about getting his photo taken and thanked us profusely for coming. As most of us are citizens of a nation that has never see war in our own country, we cannot begin to understand what the Akharini family has faced, only appreciate the passion they have put into Aleppo Sweets and their willingness to share part of their culture with us.--Lily Sones ’21

On Sunday, February 21st, a select few members of the culinary club woke up early to eat a delicious meal at Aleppo Sweets in Providence, RI. The owner, Youssef Akhtarini, owned and operated his own bakery in Syria since he was 24. However, the civil war caused it to be completely destroyed. He fled from their home with his wife and six children to Turkey where they were registered as refugees and accepted to resettle in Providence, RI after two years. Youssef started baking at a local pizza store and then worked his way up to owning and operating his own bakery in America. The bakery has received a nomination for one of America’s best new restaurants in 2019 and has become a hot spot and safe haven for homesick Syrians in Providence.

As soon as I walked in, I was amazed at the gorgeous décor and intimate feeling of the bakery. The copper teapots, plants, and beautiful patterned windows made you feel like you had walked into a different world. As we all sat down at the table, plates and plates of food came out. The hummus and baba ghanoush were drizzled with olive oil and spices and served with delicious flatbread. My favorite thing was the tender and flavorful chicken kabobs with rice. I tried absolutely everything at the table and there was nothing that didn’t melt in your mouth. After our meal, we had dessert. The crisp and buttery baklava was hot, flaky, sweet and delectable. I had a pistachio chocolate one that was so good, I brought home a full box.

Though the food was amazing, the emotion and hard work put into the bakery made it much more rewarding to enjoy our time there.–Madelyn Knudsen ’20

This Sunday, I went to a Syrian bakery, called Aleppo Sweets, owned by a former refugee who has quickly achieved national recognition for his baking, with his business reaching Bon Appetit‘s Top 50 Restaurants shortly after its founding in 2016.

We were given Syrian bread and various dips as a starter, the baba ganoush being my favorite, along with stuffed dates, which were sweet and with a nice crunch from the pistachios. Next were stuffed grape leaves, filled with rice, beef kibbeh (ground finely yet pointy in the mouth due to its fried casing), and lamb kebabs with an accompanying salad. We had lamb fatayer, a spicy flatbread that paired well with the labneh dip, and a za’atar fatayer, which was almost green from its heavy spicing and very dry on the tongue. I ordered a bitter tea–ginger, cardamom and mint–with a pleasant aroma. They provided us with an assortment of baklava, and I selected the walnut one. It was sweet, flaky, and the perfect end to our dining experience, along with the pistachio-topped vanilla ice cream.–Jamie Shipman ’20

Annual Johnson and Wales University Tour: the Culinary School

While many seniors have been visiting potential campuses for the past year, no school has looked like this. Students left with a mixture of awe and admiration once they learned witnessed the work and dedication it takes to become a chef–or anyone any professional in the culinary world.

When presented with a day off from school, I jumped at the opportunity not really knowing what I was getting myself into. However, the experience was surprisingly rewarding! We got a tour of the school, however, what made it different from other college tours is the fact that the school seems so interactive. We did see a few normal classrooms but then we walked to the Culinary Center for Culinary Excellence building and all the “classrooms” turned into kitchens. Every student we saw was either taking notes on what their Chef was telling them or doing the cooking themselves. We also had the opportunity to watch a class practice serving dishes, which was interesting because you don’t necessarily think about the proper way to serve dishes at a restaurant. I would be lying if I said I didn’t think to myself a few times on the tour about pursuing a future in the culinary arts. Over all it was a super fun day! —Emma Kerr ‘20

Today, twelve members of the Jonathan D. Sellitto Culinary Arts Club ’01 were granted the opportunity to explore Johnson and Wales University’s culinary school. We were given a brief admissions overview and then saw the campus. Before diving into the culinary school and viewing many classes in session, our tour guide showcased student resources and academic offices allowing us to understand that the institution is also a comprehensive university. Following the tour, we went to the 4-level culinary arts building. Every class we saw was engaged and attentively taking notes on demonstrations or fervently cooking. My favorite class we saw was the cold food specific kitchen where students were making sausages and prepping for the meal of the day. Every student looked genuinely excited to be there and the energy exuding from the room was contagious. Prior to seeing students in the class and understanding the intricacy of multiple courses, I was wary of the intensity of culinary school and value of the education. However, food is what everyone turns to for tradition and comfort. Without good food, many of my family traditions and memories wouldn’t be the same. The profession is an art, and I am grateful for the opportunity to gain understanding of how hard a chef must work to be there. —Maddie Knudsen ‘20

Departing from Portsmouth Abbey on January 14th, the Jonathan D. Sellitto Culinary Arts Club ’01 took a field trip to Johnson and Wales University to visit their culinary buildings, see what classes are like, and what they have to offer culinary students. We began our day with a tour given by a senior at the university. She took us through three buildings; we began walking through a building that contained a food shop and some informational desks where any question you have can be answered. If you continue walking you’ll reach their culinary museum, filled with antique kitchen equipment, old diner settings, bar settings, and more antique things that make you think you are walking through time in the world of culinary. On the way to look at what their typical classroom looks like, we passed it we got a glimpse of Red Sauce, where we were going to eat after our tour. Red Sauce has pasta, pizza, calzones, sandwiches, and salads. After, we went to the last building dedicated to culinary. Beautifully large with glass windows everywhere, we walked inside where you can see what all the classes are making because of their half-glass walls. We passed classes making croissants, bread, sausage, and much more while seeing cakes on display everywhere in the hallways. After a great tour, we headed to Red Sauce before leaving the university and heading home. —Ellie Richards ‘21

On Tuesday January 14th, we went to Johnson and Wales University to get a taste of the culinary world. During the tour we got an in-depth look at the facilities and operations. We passed by on-hands classes including bread making and pastry. The classes also centered around food service, which we got to sit in on. The talent of the students was obvious as shown by the intricate cakes and sugar work. The chefs were very friendly and created a positive environment. The students all looked so energetic and happy during their classes. It is obvious that they are passionate about what they are doing. I was impressed that the different culinary majors worked together. The class that specialized in breaking down meats sent their prepared meat to the other classes. The pastry chefs would send their desserts to the savory chefs and vice versa. The prepared food would be set out to a buffet at the end of the day for the other students and dining hall. All and all, this was a passionate culinary community that genuinely loved what they’re doing.–Emma Alexander ‘20

Johnson and Wales University was beautiful through my eyes and through my nose. From precise and exquisite sugar sculptures to scents of crafted masterpieces, they had it all. We got to see actual restaurants on campus to student-run kitchens, which shows the school really gets their students involved by getting their hands dirty. From my own experience in kitchens and being under the pressure, I could tell through the looks in their eyes that they were in the zone just like they would be in a real kitchen scenario. Being prepared with not only knowledge but experience as well allows chefs to settle into real kitchens a lot more smoothly. The university has incredibly fresh, delicious food and is either consumed, donated or sold for fairly cheap since they make so much. The campus itself is quite beautiful, modern, and fairly spacious. I thoroughly enjoyed my visit this afternoon to Johnson and Wales University. —Steve Andonian ‘21

The Jonathan D. Sellitto Culinary Arts Club ’01 was fortunate enough to take a trip to Johnson and Wales University to immerse us in their comprehensive culinary arts program. As our tour guide led us through the academic buildings on the Johnson and Wales campus, the culinary club members experienced the depth of the courses and programs offered at the university. From the sommelier management class where the students were sampling a variety of Italian wines to viennoiserie 101, a class dedicated to teaching students the foundations of classic breakfast pastries such as croissants and Danishes, we were all amazed by the intricacy of the work. My favorite part of the tour was seeing a culinary class make sausage from scratch. Students were handcrafting every element, from grinding the meat using an industrial grinder to putting the meet in natural casing. Students at Johnson and Wales fully experience life as a chef while still in school, so much so that classes procure their own menu and craft a series of dishes that are served to the student body. I was truly amazed and inspired by the dedication and hard work of the students at Johnson and Wales. The culinary arts are often underrated in terms of difficulty, but after our morning at JWU, I have a better understanding of the effort and dedication necessary to becoming successful in the culinary world. —Eloise Abbate ‘20

On Tuesday January 14th, the Jonathan D. Sellitto Culinary Arts Club ’01 visited Johnson and Wales University. Here, we took a tour of the campus and saw what the day in the life of a culinary student included. First, our senior tour guide showed us the Friedman Center, which included the library, academic and residential services and the wonderful Culinary Arts Museum. Next we headed to The Harborside Academic Center, which included several academic classrooms, food labs, and Red Sauce, one of the many dining options on campus. Lastly, we toured The Cuisinart Center for Culinary Excellence. This was my favorite part of the tour because we got to see students work in both cold and hot kitchens, meat cutting and meat processing rooms, practice dining services and even see some of their cake and bread creations. The University offers a ton of great options for their students and allows them to explore different ideas both inside and outside of the kitchen. I really enjoyed this field trip and hope to learn even more about the culinary arts as the year goes on! —Julia Sisk ‘21

From the moment that I stepped on to the Johnson and Wales University campus, a feeling of creativity and freedom rained down on me. Large, modern buildings that emitted a sophisticated, yet fun, vibe greeted me. When inside the Grace Welcome Center, I felt the seriousness of any other university along with the focus on culinary arts. The hallways were lined with tall multi-layered cakes, and pictures of students in the kitchen lined the wall. Through these things, I felt a wanting to cook hit me. Seeing students in the kitchen, their cakes, and bread sculptures inspired me to hop in and make something myself.

Although culinary is not something I plan to study in college, Johnson and Wales University had me considering the switch. Cooking is such an important part of the sustenance of life, and it is definitely something that we should indulged in. Rafael Borromeo ‘20

I was able to go on a tour to Johnson and Wales University. I was able to see how their culinary education is, and how it is a part of their life. I was also able to try some of their food on campus, such as a Caprese sandwich and three slices of their special pizza of the day. The food was great and authentic. I am very interested in learning more about this school and what it has to offer. I am very glad that I was able to go on this Culinary Arts field trip, and I can’t wait for the next one!

Throughout my life, I have been exposed to, and been able to learn about, culinary arts. While I was walking around Johnson Wales University, I noticed that the students that were majoring in the culinary arts were very determined to learn and become a better chef, sous chef, or a sommelier. Every time a chef/instructor was speaking, the students were very attentive, and they were genuinely enjoying their time. The education of culinary arts was very intricate, yet easy to grasp. After this field trip, I feel more educated and interested in the culinary arts. —Luke Kuyper ‘20

Today, the Jonathan D. Sellitto Culinary Arts Club ’01 traveled to Johnson and Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island. We were greeted on campus by one of the University’s admissions counselors, who gave us a brief information session and told us all about its culinary programs and classes. After we were done with our info session, we were then handed off to our tour guide who was a junior at the university. She took us all over the kitchens and classrooms on campus, including their culinary museum, which happened to be my favorite part! We saw all sorts of restaurant setups and tools. Overall, the campus was not only beautiful, but featured state-of-the-art technology that allows their students to develop into professionals. After we finished the tour, we ate at one of the school’s restaurants, which featured pizza, pasta, and more. Personally, I tried the pizza and loved it! When we were done eating, we headed over to downtown Providence where we got to see their downtown campus (just from the outside). Next we went to a cafe named Knead that sells doughnuts and coffee. I tried a chocolate glazed doughnut, and it was delicious! Overall it was a great day, and I am so incredibly thankful that we had the opportunity to see the university and everything that it has to offer. —Ted Falvey ‘20

I thoroughly enjoyed the visit to Johnson and Wales. The tour guide was a junior, so she gave her own personal insight into the school and what it had to offer. We were able to peek into some of the “labs” where a chef was conducting classes for the students. It was interesting to see how education can be intermixed with culinary practice. Once you got past the wonderful smells, you were really able to take in everything. Something I was always interested in was international foods. It seems, although the school is in the United States, they do a very good job of incorporating different cultures into the courses available. The United States is a melting pot of cultures, and Johnson and Wales appears to enhance this. I was responsible for takeover Tuesday Tuesday that day, and I was able to photograph a lot of what we saw. This helped me really process what we were seeing and experiencing. The culinary world is so vast and stretches beyond the kitchen. —Kate Driscoll ‘20

The experience of a college tour is one that is familiar to me. I have walked around many campuses and looked in on many courses, but Johnson and Wales was a whole new experience. There was a sense of liveliness among all the classes with all the students listening carefully to their instructor. It was clear the students actually cared and had a desire to learn. Having worked in a kitchen before, I admire all the students there. Pursuing a career in the culinary arts is not an easy task, and it takes a lot of work and dedication.

I have lived a different reality than most when it comes to food. Growing up on a high school campus equipped with a dining hall, I am used to buffet style, where the food is always prepared in mass quantities and you serve yourself. It was awesome to see how students go to classes in order to learn how to serve or how to prepare a masterpiece of a dish. I never really thought about that side of the food world until this tour. It was truly an eye opening experience. —Matthew Walter ‘20

Sharing our Breakfast with Martin Luther King Food Pantry in Newport, RI

The Martin Luther King Center in Newport, RI provides service in all manner of ways for those in need. One way is through their Food Pantry, and during the week it feeds breakfast to many every morning. Club members gathered to learn how to make a breakfast strata, enjoy the meal themselves, and then bake enough to feed 80 people the coming week.

This past Sunday morning, the Culinary Arts club walked down Cory’s Lane to Mrs. Bonin’s house after Church to cook a nutritious breakfast for the Breakfast Program at the Martin Luther King Community Center in Newport. The MLK Center offers many services to the Newport community such as both local and mobile food pantries, a free breakfast program for Newport residents, veggie days, holiday meals and as well as education programs throughout the year. By cooking for their Breakfast Program, we were able to provide some of the less fortunate people of Newport with a meal that they otherwise may have gone without, as breakfast often ends up being the first meal skipped although it is arguably the most important.

            We decided to make a “strata,” a dish I had never heard of before–much less tasted–but luckily for me (as well as the rest of the club), Mrs. Bonin prepared a platter in advance for us to taste ourselves. A strata is a simple dish made from cubed bread, eggs, and milk somewhere between French toast and bread pudding. Any number of fun ingredients could be added such as cheese, spices like mustard and paprika, and meats like we did. As this was the club’s first time cooking for ourselves this year, this was an especially good dish to start off with because of how forgiving the recipe is; if you add too much of one ingredient, it doesn’t effect the quality of the food in the end. The strata is also made from simple ingredients, so it is easy for the MLK Center to recreate, produce in bulk, and store. As we prepared the dish, Mrs. Bonin taught us the ins-and-outs of working in a kitchen and how to use cutlery and other kitchen tools properly.

            Overall, cooking for the MLK center was such a refreshing experience. There is something about doing simple gratuitous acts for others, like cooking, which revitalizes and lifts the soul, especially when the stress of the last few weeks before exams is bearing down on you. As someone who lives in Newport and personally knows people who use the MLK Center for many different reasons, I appreciate the importance of helping out programs like this and know how beneficial they are to the people of the community. Not only did we learn about the basics of working in the kitchen but also how cooking can help people in times of need. –-Lily Sones ’21

This year the club includes more community service opportunities. The second act of service that the club engaged in was with the Dr. Martin Luther King Community Center. The MLK Community Center supports those in need in the Newport county. The center focuses on many areas, one being the fight against hunger. This past Sunday, members of the club participated in cooking food to send to the MLK center.

            We gathered in Mrs. Bonin’s home to enjoy a delicious breakfast that consisted of fruit salad, cinnamon buns, and strata, which was the dish we were making for the community center. Once we were done eating we began the cooking process. Everyone gathered around the kitchen island where we began to prepare the ingredients for the strata, a bread, cheese, egg, and milk casserole. Some people were cutting bread, others were grating the cheese or making the egg and milk mixture. We prepped the pans to assemble the layers of bread, cheese, the egg mixture, and sausage that was already cooked for us. And with that, the strata was done! It was such a nice experience to be the kitchen with friends and coming together to cook, as well as knowing the dishes would be shared and enjoyed by those of the MLK center.– Teresa Billings ’20

On Sunday, the Culinary Arts Club had a delicious morning baking several strata dishes for the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Center. The MLK Center is a nonprofit organization that helps local families in need of food, clothes, gifts during Christmas and education for young children all within 8.8 miles of our school. We started our day off tasting both a pre-made plain cheese strata and a bacon and sausage strata and then began to prepare the dish. Strata has four main ingredients which include bread, cheese, milk, and eggs, but the great thing about this dish is that you can add or eliminate anything! Being able to provide a warm and comforting meal to those that are less fortunate meant so much to me and put into perspective the need for this amazing agency here on Aquidneck Island. –-Julia Sisk ’21

Food is meant to be shared. As members of a community whose mission encourages students to foster reverence for the human person, the culinary club engaged in a service project this past Sunday. We all gathered after mass on Sunday to make strata for the MLK Center in Newport. Strata is a delicious egg, milk and bread-based casserole. The beauty of the recipe is the ability to add any variety of cheese, spice blends and meat. We made a sausage and cheddar strata with a basic spice blend consisting of mustard, salt and pepper. First, we got to sample what we were making and enjoy a delicious brunch all together. Then after we were full, we dove into making them and learned knife techniques and many tips and tricks about how to create a successful kitchen environment. These casseroles will be brought to the center and be served for breakfast. The MLK Center was founded as an independent non-profit in 1922 and it is a central service provider for at-risk individuals, families and seniors. They aim to fight hunger, support families, promote health and foster education. Every day they provide daily meals for the community. The Abbey has worked with the center previously to raise money as they do an amazing job improving our community.  Madelyn Knudsen ’20

The Martin Luther King Jr. soup kitchen in Newport Rhode Island fights hunger for all ages in the Rhode Island Community. The MLK center does much more than feeding the community. MLK also educates the public on nutrition counseling and wellness classes, and the Center offers educational help to students while providing them a meal. Adults can receive assistance with their income tax, and the center even provides Christmas presents to the children.

On Sunday, November 10th, the Abbey Culinary Club came together to prepare breakfast for the center. We were first treated to a wonderful breakfast, giving us a preview of what we would be making that day. After our breakfast we set to work; Mrs. Bonin began with teaching us the basic skills, such as using a knife. She also showed us the essential tools and tricks of cooking. As a team, we prepared around 8 trays of an egg bake made with egg, cheese, milk, spices, and bread. The recipe was super simple, and I can see myself making it in the future. Creating the bake was worthwhile knowing that we were helping those in need, and bonded while we made it.–Emma Alexander ’20

After mass, I made the trek down Cory’s Lane to Mrs. Bonin’s home to prepare breakfast for the food pantry of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center in Newport. The initial steps in preparing the Italian dish, called “strata,” were slicing up loaves of bread, grating cheese, and buttering the aluminum pans we would cook it in. We put 8 cups of bread in each pan, then cracked 9 eggs and poured out 2⅔ cups of milk into bowls, adding spices and whisking the contents together before pouring them into our pans. We sprinkled cheese in and added sausage to the pans, and stirred sausage, cheese, egg mixture, and bread together for an even spread in the pan. We fortunately knew exactly what the food would taste like, since our host had so kindly prepared the dish as our breakfast. I’m glad that our experience was not only fun and educational, but also benefited the people in our community who don’t have three meals everyday.–Jamie Shipman ’21

This past weekend the Culinary Club got together for a really great cause. We all arrived to Ms.Bonin’s house greeted by a table full of food. We had fruit salad, cinnamon buns and strata. Everyone enjoyed their food for a little while before we washed our hands and made own strata. Most of us started out by cutting bread and then people moved on to their own jobs. For me, it was grating cheese. Other people were buttering pans, cracking eggs, and measuring out spices. At the end when we put everyone’s jobs together, we got stratas! Ms. Bonin later in the week brought them down to the MLK center in Newport, a place I have been lucky enough to volunteer at myself. I hope the work we all put in put a smile on someone else’s face. –Emma Kerr ’20

On Sunday, November 10th, some of the Culinary Club members gathered together to make a delightful breakfast dish that later on would be served to the Martin Luther King Center. Before any cooking could start, we had a great breakfast where we all got to eat what we were about to make, delicious strata! Fresh pieces of bread cut into small squares drenched in a milk-egg mixture with tasteful spices all covered with layers of cheese and incredible sausage, this gets left out for a while so the bread can soak everything up then it goes into the oven and what your left with is a mouth watering dish. The entire purpose of making the strata was to make sure the less fortunate get a delicious breakfast. All of the strata we made got sent over to the MLK Community Center, which is a non-profit organization that fights hunger and helps support families in the Newport County of Rhode Island. They help families that are in need of food, clothes, education, and even Christmas gifts! Being able to help some of the local families by making sure they have food on their plate in the morning means a lot, and I couldn’t be happier that I was part of this experience. —Ellie Richards ’21

As members of the Culinary Club assembled together on Sunday, November 10, we baked eight batches of strata for the MLK Center in Newport, RI. The MLK Center is a community center for helping children and others by fighting for hunger, helping with education, and much more. This was an amazing experience to come together not only to learn how to make Strata, but to do this for a great cause. I am thankful that we could come together and make this happen, knowing that we are feeding those who need food most.--Crystal Chojnowski ’20

The Human Rights and Culinary Club together help raise money for Hurricane Dorian Relief

Portsmouth Abbey Alum Alex Walgreen ’09 is helping his uncle Carl Allen to raise money for victims of Hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas. In order to do our part, both clubs held a very successful donut sale, raising $600.00 to aid the relief effort. Student Jamarya Jackson ’20, introduced the project at assembly, showing a video of how the money would help the community: food and water were shipped over, medical facilities and school buildings were repaired or rebuilt.

Click here to visit relief efforts for Hurrican Dorrian

Chefs Collaborative 2019

Another beautiful day on the pond at Schartner Farms in Exeter, RI allowed the newest members of the Jonathan D. Sellitto ’01 Abbey Culinary Arts Club experience the best that Rhode Island has to offer in food. This is our fifth year, and several chefs and vendors now welcome Portsmouth Abbey like old friends.

Going into the Chef’s Collaborative I didn’t know what to expect. I was excited, no doubt about that, but nothing could prepare me for the vast variety of good food I was to encounter. When we entered under the narrow topiary arch leading into the event, it was like entering a new world different from the sparse, beige farm we had first arrived at. Hidden behind these topiary walls was a gathering full to the brim with life. The event was alive with live music, laughter and amazing smells, not to mention a beautiful fall setting complete with a chrysanthemum-laden, wooden dock overlooking a placid lake. 

There was a palpable excitement in the air; maybe it was the hungry anticipation for delicious food, but it was also the sense of community between the chefs and food-lovers that gathered around the banks of the small lake. I was struck by how passionate the chefs were about their food; each sample was meticulously created and assembled in the small bowls. Their passion truly shined through when the explained their creations. Each local chef was more than willing to make conversation and explain their foods to us as they prepared the samples on the spot for what was often a long line of people waiting to try their food, yet each interaction was intimate and engaging. 

As I walked from table to table, I was determined to take as much as I could from the unique experience even if it meant looking at foods I might once have avoided in a new light. To my surprise, it wasn’t as hard as I thought! The food looked and smelled so good that it wasn’t hard to feel curious about its taste and I wasn’t disappointed. We, as a group, all tried the raw oysters at the forefront of the event, and although it didn’t look as appetizing as the delicious macaroons from Elle’s I would try later into the visit, it was in its own way just as good. I also tried the spicy Tofu from the Beehive and the maroon colored beet pocket bread stuffed with braised lamb neck from Metacom Kitchen and was delightfully surprised how tasty these dishes were. Overall, the Chef’s Collaborative BBQ was an eye-opening experience for me of the delicious variety of food local Rhode Island has to offer. —Lily Sones ’21

​Immediately after stepping off the bus onto the gravel road, I found myself in a place I’d least expect a culinary event to occur. Dated trucks and piles of dirt are not what I imagined the Chef’s Collaborative to be. This all changed when I walked through the lush green arch, and was immediately greeted by by live music, remarkable aromas, and good vibes. People of all ages spread the beautiful green fields of Schartner Farms trying foods from the numerous stands set up by local restaurants. I eagerly hopped into the first line for the biggest challenge: Oysters from New Rivers’ Raw Bar.

​I once tried an oyster when I was 13, and I did not enjoy eating it. But having recently read Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, I was inspired by the moment Benedict said, “…but doth not the appetite alter?”(2.3.240) I doused the oyster in hot sauce, hesitantly ate the slimy sea creature, and to my surprise, enjoyed it. The smooth texture complimented the buttery and salty flavor of the oyster, while the hot sauce added a little zing of spice. I later found myself going back for a second, and later, a third. 

​Overall, the Rhode Island Harvest Barbecue sponsored by Chefs Collaborative served as a great means for me to expand my horizon and try new foods. The barbecue transformed a food I once found repulsive into a delightful and tasty experience.–Rafael Borromeo ’20

Sunday October 6th 2019 marked Rhode Islands 10th Annual Chefs Harvest Barbecue. This year the Jonathan D. Sellitto ’01 Culinary Club was able to make the trip to the Schartner Family Farm in Exeter RI to experience the event. Upon our arrival at the farm, we departed the bus and made our way over to a small pond. The Harvest Barbecue (Chefs Collaborative) is set up along the perimeter of about half of the pond. The entrance to the event is marked off by a quaint arch cutting through a series of tall bushes. Immediately to the left upon entering there was an oyster stand with freshly shucked Rhode Island Oysters. Our initial task was to shoot an oyster. The oysters were delicious! After shooting our oysters, we were free to roam the festival and explore the works of some of the best chefs in Rhode Island. My personal favorite was from Metacom Kitchen. They had prepared a beet pocket bread with braised lamb neck, Moroccan spice, cauliflower and ginger gold apple. The beet pocket bread provided an enjoyable twist to a traditional pocket bread. Beneath the bread, the cauliflower combined perfectly with the lamb to deliver a unique taste. I also enjoyed the macarons made by Ellie’s. After spending two hours indulging myself in cuisine from Rhode Island’s best chefs, I was tapped out for the day. We said goodbye to Chefs Collaborative and headed back to campus. — Ted Falvey ‘20

​Walking into the event I was very nervous. I knew that I was not allowed to try any food there until I had eaten an oyster. I dreaded this moment as I do not like seafood in any way. If it lives in water, I will not eat it. Standing in the oyster line, I started thinking of ways to get out as I was almost at the front. I realized I was trapped when I saw Mrs. Bonin behind me and Mr. Calisto in front, taking photo evidence to make sure everyone tried one. My hand started shaking as I grabbed an oyster, and by my hand I mean my whole body; this oyster was huge. My friends gathered around me, encouraging me to eat it and get it over with. I had never felt so scared in my life. I thought there was no way I could actually get myself to eat this thing. Then… the world suddenly slowed down. I raised the oyster to my mouth and gulped it down. I have never, and I mean never, felt something more slimy and disgusting in my entire life. The texture and sensation had to be a 0/10 but the taste was a solid 6/10. Overall I was surprised about how un-fishy the oyster tasted. If given the opportunity to try another one, I would not. I can see how some people may like it but they are definitely not for me.–Matthew Walter ’20

We arrived at the Chefs Collaborative, hosted on a lakeside with live music; the obligatory oyster every member must have greeted me as the first food I would taste that evening. I had smothered it in cocktail sauce to mask the texture, which wasn’t as intolerable as I thought it would be, and I delighted in the freshness of the oyster. Next was a stew prepared by Nicks, the pork fatty, tender, and just how I like it, and the dish overall hearty and fulfilling. The long line for Brix’s barbeque was well-deserved, with the duck fat beignet melting in my mouth, the onion perfectly sweet, and beef ribs fatty and delicious. The brisket from Tallulah’s Taqueria was very soft, and I loved the use of peppers in it, but found the mac+cheese too akin to coleslaw to enjoy it. I went for dessert at the table for Ellie’s, an apple hand pie with honey bourbon glaze, the filling not too sweet and the pastry bready overall. Perhaps my favorite dish was the cassoulet from the Newport Restaurant Group, with crunchy carrots, meat that was chewy but not too hard, and bread that was soft and sweet. The kielbasa from Gracie’s reminded me of the perfectly crisp sausage my father cooks for me at home, but the sauce seemed too sweet a topping. —Jamie Shipman ‘21

Going in to the day I was worried there would not be things I could enjoy, however, I was able to find some things I ended up loving! The restaurant Ellie’s had amazing little bit-sized apple pies. I’m usually not a big fan of apple pie but for some reason these were so good. I was able to get through probably three of them. Today was just the day of liking things I normally don’t because I usually would pass on a root beer, however Yacht Club Sodas + Seltzers had sodas to sample and I chose the root beer, and it was delicious! Another thing I was able to have was corn fritters from Eli’s Kitchen; I thought they were good but in my opinion, it had a bit too much cilantro. Beehive Cafe had a tofu curry. For me it was a little bit too sweet of curry, but I really liked the chickpeas. Overall, I had a really fun time and enjoyed what I had!–Emma Kerr ‘20

The Chef’s Collaborative was lively and inspiring. I overheard someone describe it as ‘the Woodstock of food’ and I think it’s very fitting. It was my first time trying oysters, but a vital step to becoming a member of the club. When the soft insides slid into my mouth, the first thing I could taste was the salty sea water. These were surely fresh! I think it will take me some time to get used to them, but oysters are certainly a delicacy. I also had the experience to try Granny Squibb’s tea. They had three flavors: lime, mojito and cranberry. My favorite was Mojito; the flavor brought me back to Cuba! I got an entire flask to go.

My favorite dish was probably the Thai style Schartner Farm Corn Fritters, by Eli’s Kitchen. I had never had corn fritters made in any kind of Asian style. These were prepared right at the moment there on the farm. The sweet and sour sauce paired with the spices, and they were served very hot! Supplies were limited, but I still lined up twice to get another try.

I also had the chance to try the Braised lamb neck in beet pocket bread with Moroccan spice, cauliflower and ginger gold apple, by Metacom Kitchen. These were slightly dry, but the quality of the lamb was prime. Probably the spiciest meal I had came from Chez Pascal. They made a bowl of braised Baffoni Farm chicken, Diana’s fingerling potatoes, and za’atar spice.

For dessert, I tried the macarons from Ellie’s Bakery. These were incredibly fresh, and I could deduce from the taste that the ingredients were well sourced. I don’t think I would be able to tell one of those macarons apart from some authentic Parisian ones.

I was impressed by the Middle Eastern and Asian influences in these usually American dishes. The lake, the live music, and the company only made the food more delectable. I’m grateful for the opportunity to have attended Chefs Collaborative.–Mauricio Garcia Gojon ’20

The Chefs Collaborative took place on a warm New England fall day.  The phenomenal food paired with the atmosphere made for an indescribable afternoon. The day did not have a fantastic start. Our initiation to the group required us to have a fresh oyster, which is best described as rancid ocean jello. After that setback, we embarked on our culinary journey. From the central fire pit, came the fresh ribs and brisket. The fire-roasted ribs were paired with a duck fat benget and roasted onion. The fire-roasted brisket was paired with a corn relish on a barbecue-style sandwich. The only dessert booth from the event featured hand pies and three types of macaroons. My favorite dessert was easily raspberry and rose macaroons. The dessert was perfectly balanced, and the rose was not overwhelming, it only added to the deep flavor. 

Along with the food came the vast array of drinks. I easily had at least 6 servings of different drinks, which were all locally sourced. All of the chefs were memorable, especially the chef who served the corn fritters, which were easily the best savory dish of the afternoon. The corn fritters were freshly made and were coated in a tangy sauce that is still memorable even a week after tasting.

Eating the fresh food on the water made the Chefs Collaborative worth the entire trip. The scenery only added to the experience and atmosphere. The band put everyone in an energized mood for the entire event. Each chef had an obvious passion for food. Their love for cooking showed in every potion of their dishes. The chef’s love and passion for food is what made the event so memorable and worthwhile. –Emma Alexander ’20

When I was younger a fall trip to Schartner Farm’s pumpkin patch was a staple in my house. The hayride, face painting and cutting a pumpkin off the vine was something I looked forward to every year. This past weekend, the 2019-2020 Culinary Arts club attended an event called Chefs Collaborative in the same place that I have so many cherished fall memories. The event was set on a beautiful pond with people and families enjoying the amazing cuisine and live music. Restaurants and chefs from all over Rhode Island set up booths around the pond with an individual dish for people to try. Each stand had their own unique sampling with everything from modern cuisine to traditional comfort food.

Personally, I do not enjoy red meat and I only ever eat it on special occasions. Going into this event, I had an open mind and wanted to try absolutely everything the chefs had to offer. I also have a tendency to take things off or alter dishes, and I made myself promise I would wholeheartedly take one bite of everything without hesitation. I did just that and was thrilled with the results. The most shocking dish I tried was from Metacom Kitchen. They served braised lamb neck with cauliflower and ginger gold apple wrapped in beet pocket bread. It tasted heavenly with curry like spices and tender meat all wrapped up in soft earthy bread. However, my favorite dish was the first thing I tried. Nicks on Broadway served an amazing Blackbird Farm pork paired with Maine beans and a dollop of sour cream. The pork was deliciously tender and had a smoky flavor paired with the beans that melted in your mouth. The sour cream on top was the perfect creamy way to finish the dish. The most amazing part of the event was taking in the fact that within such a small state, chefs churn out delectable and unique dishes. New England is an extraordinary place and this event highlighted the complexity of the state we get to call home. It also pushed me outside my comfort zone, and I am so grateful for the experience. It definitely has been one of the highlights of my senior fall thus far. –Madelynn Knudson ‘20

It was a cold and cloudy day as we walked off the bus and onto the gravel. As we began to walk towards the entrance, we heard the chatter in the air. Following this noise, we arrived at a hole seemingly cut into the hedge. The cold stillness behind us disappeared and gave way to a world of smells, sights and music. The very first this any of us saw were the freshly shucked large and plump oysters. After indulging in one or two of these delectable delights, we moved on to the long line forming near two stations. The first station revealed a wonderful cut of beef with an airy puff and some onion underneath; the meat quickly dissolved to reveal a creamy flavour whilst the puff and onions added a more complex earthy flavour. We moved onto the next station which served exceedingly savoury and fresh pulled pork sandwiches with sauteed bell peppers and creamy mac and cheese accompanied by a tangy Verde sauce and a crispy crunch courtesy of the fried breading. Afterwards, we walked to a station sitting next to a grill with long sections of sausages hanging over it. This station provided sausages drizzled in a mustard seed sauce with grilled onions. The next station provided us with a corn and arugula salad with a grilled scallop. The next stand was serving a fried ring of flattened dough lightly salted with a creamy and rich yet developed flavour. As we moved onwards we came across a bread made from vegetables with a sharp yet woody filling. The next and perhaps my favourite station had large fried doughy orbs filled with a thick, corn flavoured filling topped with sea salt and a sweet and sour sauce. The last station I visited was serving a vegetable version of pulled pork with potatoes and spiced with paprika. The Chefs Collaborative was an extremely fun and lively place filled with sounds of chatter and music, however, the star of the show was the simple yet delicious food that was served by the many wonderful chefs that partook in this year’s event. —Dan Twomey ‘20

  I had heard many great things about the Chefs Collaborative event from members who have attended in the past, and I was excited to see what it was all about. I had no idea what to expect, but I arrived at the Schartner Family Farm with an open mind and a good appetite. The entire club immediately headed to the table where fresh oysters were served, and my friend Victoria and I both gave each other a nervous look. It was the first time trying raw oysters for both of us, but we still ate them eagerly. Needless to say, that was probably also the last time we would ever eat oysters. I’m sure that seafood lovers would’ve loved that sample, and I was not deterred. The location had many more tables, and everything looked so delicious.     The club attacked and conquered the barbecue area first, and it certainly did not disappoint. While waiting in line for the extremely popular smoked brisket sandwich from Tallulah’s Taqueria, I was also able to try fire roasted beef ribs with tasty duck fat beignets and onion confit. It was a great sample to prepare me for the sandwich, which was a favorite for almost everyone. I desperately wanted seconds, but I knew there was much more waiting on the other side for me to eat.     The selection was overwhelming, making me glad I saved room for more. Another one of my favorites was the curried tofu and spinach from The Beehive cafe. Some of the other members that I spoke to weren’t fans, but its nostalgic, yet unique, taste instantly made me want to drive to Bristol and order it as a main dish. Some other staples were the thai style corn fritters from Eli’s Kitchen, squash rings and greens from The East End, and Ellie’s delectable french macarons and honey glazed apple hand pies.     I tried as much as I could of everything until I absolutely could not eat any more. However, I still managed to try a few of the beverages offered, which exceeded my expectations. After seeing a sign that said “Come try our Vampire’s Blood!” next to the Yacht Club Sodas + Seltzer’s stand, I couldn’t resist. The orange mango soda was quite possibly the best drink I’ve ever had, and I did go back for seconds that time. Overall, I would say that this year’s Chefs Collaborative was a success. It was so great to be able to try things from so many restaurants in the area that I had previously been unfamiliar with, and I’ll definitely be visiting some of them in the near future.–Michelle Victorine ’21

There was nothing but utter excitement as I walked beneath the bushes to enter the Chefs Collaborative. The event was already up and running with an abundance of people, live music, and a plethora of smells. There were so many things to admire, from the trendy light bulbs strung throughout, to the array of meats being cooked over an open fire. I was ready to go on my merry way, equipped with my fork and spoon to taste as many dishes as I could. That eagerness quickly fizzled away however, when I realized it was time to eat the one thing I was mortified of trying—oysters. I have an irrational fear of all seafood, so to say I was not keen on having to go through this initiation would be an understatement. Nevertheless, I put on a brave face as I stared down at the slimy creature sitting in its grey juice, and down the hatch it went. “Don’t chew, just swallow!” was what I kept saying to myself. In the end, it was not as bad as I had pictured, but that could just be because I drowned the oyster in cocktail sauce.

            After the whole oyster fiasco, I walked along the glistening pond and made a beeline for the first food that caught my eye—macarons! These macarons from Ellie’s ended up being one of my favorites from the entire event. The one I tasted was what they called Sour Grape. With the confection’s deep purple coloring, I was interested to find out what it tasted like. My taste buds were instantly hit with the sweetness from the meringue outside, which was quickly cut by the smooth, sour filling that resided further in the delectable treat. As much as I wanted to stay and eat every last macaron I decided to part ways but not before grabbing another macaron to go.

            Eli’s Kitchen led me to find another one of my favorite dishes. They were serving Thai style corn fritters, which used corn right from Schartner Farms. Taking my first bite through the crispy exterior, my mouth was flooded with the taste of cilantro. The herb allowed for a dash of freshness in the heavy, fried, food. The more I ate the fritters the more I was able to pick up on certain flavors. There was a wonderful hint of lime zest within the fluffy corn interior. Everything came together so perfectly, from the sweetness of the corn to the zing of the Thai peppers. I made sure to visit this table more than once before leaving.

            The entire experience of being surrounded by avid foodies was something I never thought I would be a part of. The Chefs Collaborative allowed me to try new foods, some that I thoroughly enjoyed and others that I could pass on. At the end of the day, I was introduced to all kinds of amazing food and expanded my knowledge about the art of cooking. But most importantly, I left with an extremely full stomach. –Teresa Billings ’20

My experience at the Chef’s Collaborative was truly eye opening. Since I am an extremely picky eater, I went into the event doubting I would enjoy much of the food. However, I was pleasantly surprised. First, I tried the oysters, which was indeed something I had been dreading. The oyster was much unlike anything I had ever tried before. The method used to go about eating the oyster was also a very new experience for me. While, I cannot say I have been converted into an avid oyster eater, I do have a much better appreciation of oysters on the whole. Next, I had a pulled pork sandwich with a twist. I loved every bite of it although it was quite unique to the pulled pork I’ve had in the past. I tried an assortment of foods from various stands, eating things I didn’t even know existed or things I never thought I’d try, like squash rings and curry. Soon, I made my way to a dessert stand with one of the most delicious macaroons I’ve ever had in my life. It was bright pink with just the right amount of sweetness. I visited two beverage stands: one with mojito lime flavored iced tea and one with a red carbonated drink appropriately named ‘Vampire’s Blood.’ I enjoyed both immensely and will definitely find a way to purchase them in the future. As one can tell through reading this blog, the Chef’s Collaborative is an event not to be missed and is one that will greatly enrich your senses should you be fortunate enough to attend.–Victoria Travassos ’20

Chef Sean Shin ’14 Shares his Pastry Skills and Spreads Happiness

A truly magical Sunday was spent in the Gibbons’ kitchen with Abbey grad Sean Shin, currently Chef de Partie at the Michelin-starred Eleven Madison Park in New York. He generously took vacation time to show the Culinary Arts Club some of his pastry skills while creating truly beautiful and delicious desserts. One could not be anything but impressed with his talent, humility, passion, and kindness. We are so proud of our own Sean Shin!

Chef Shin is an inspiration to anyone he encounters. In an industry that’s as competitive as food, it would be easy to get lost and give up or even turn sour. Chef Shin has done nothing of the sort. Instead, he has kept his motivation the same for a number of years and worked his way up the food chain (no pun intended) in a wholesome way. He hopes that he’ll be able to up the ‘happiness level’ of the person he encounters whether it’s by way of his mouth-watering food or his bright smile and kind words. He believes that if he is able to make that one person happy, a chain reaction will be started. That happy person will make the next person happy, and then the next until the whole world is happier, even if just a little bit. It only takes one. Seeing Chef Shin work in the kitchen and talk about his experiences in the professional world is unforgettable. While I’m not passionate about food in the same way, his passion made me want to chase my dreams even harder while keeping the same grace, poise and kindness he carries with him. I will be sure to visit Eleven Madison in New York if I ever get the chance. And who knows, maybe I’ll make my server a little happier when I’m there. –Abby Gibbons ‘19

Chef Shin’s philosophy of why he creates the food he does stood out to me. He wants to start a chain of happiness that travels beyond just the food he creates and leave a more lasting impact on everyone. He believes that if someone comes into the restaurant with a happiness level of fifty percent, he wants them to leave even happier and spread that happiness to the next person they interact with. This then makes that person happier and hopefully makes their day better and then they can continue to spread that happiness to the next person. If this chain keeps going everyone will eventually be happier. He also said that he thinks that sleep is crucial to being creative and suggest it to be better to go to sleep rather than wrack your brain for a new idea. Each of the three desserts presented new techniques and ideas to me of how to take an older idea and reinvent it. Chef Shin also suggested making sure to get adequate sleep if at all possible.

The strawberry pistachio tart took a seemingly simple tart shell, strawberries, cream, and gold, and elevated them to complement each other and work together. The chocolate sponge cake was layered with a whipped ganache and topped with a hazelnut, gold leaf, and a dehydrated crumb cookie. For the vanilla sponge cake, the marshmallow with pine nuts added a new dense yet airy texture to the cake.  –Elise Banderob ‘19

Experiencing and watching Chef Sean prepare three desserts was eye-opening to the professional restaurant world. He told us his story from when he graduated from Portsmouth Abbey to his path to becoming a chef at Eleven Madison Park. His work ethic inspires me to work hard at the things that I am passionate about. The movements of a professional chef from a lucrative restaurant is nothing like you have ever seen, Sean was super efficient in his work and even though he said that his work was not as good as usual and casual, each dessert was beautiful. Each ingredient he used was labor-intensive. 

He made a barley cream by roasting and dehydrating barley before rehydrating the barley with milk. The result was a custard like cream that tastes like coffee. The barley cream was incorporated into his version of a tiramisu; layers of sponge with cream and roasted pine nut marshmallows. He also made a strawberry pistachio tart. The tart crust was made with both a regular crust and a layer of almond paste, which was something I had never thought about doing before. The chocolate cake was beautifully presented with bits of gold leaf on top. I usually do not like whipped ganaches, but his was a much thinner consistency than others. He grated in fresh cacao into the ganache rather than cocoa powder or chocolate which was interesting.—India Roemlein ‘19

Chef Shin presented us his procedure of making fancy and delicious desserts, which he called “home – cooking.” He talked about his determination to perfecting his career and shared his philosophy in cooking. I was impressed by his wish to boost the “happy level” of everyone, especially strangers, by his bright smile and positive energy, and so people can pass this happiness to each other. Moreover, he devotes himself to cooking and sacrifices his vacation and resting time in order to invent new recipes as well as to improve the flavors of his old recipes. He also combines his childhood memories and Korean dessert to Western dishes, which makes his desserts more unique and delicious. He was really precise when mixing ingredients for really small components of the whole dish: the cream, the nutty caramel sauce, the marshmallow, etc. I had a glance at his notebook, and it was well-organized and detailed with sketches. He advised us to take notes of inspiration and thoughts all the times and review them and maybe one day they will become really helpful. —Sylvie Qiu ‘19

Chef Shin prepares three desserts for us. The first one is a two-layer sponge cake with barley butter in between. The barley butter filling offers an interesting texture, differing greatly from traditional frosting. The chocolaty rice flakes brushed on the side, combined with the grainy, chewy bite, completes the flavor of this unique cake. The second dessert is another sponge cake. Instead of flakes on the side, Shin mixes the chocolate flavor into the cake itself. He also decorates the cake with toasted hazelnuts and tops it off with edible gold foil (“home-cooking” according to him). The third one, also my personal favorite, is a strawberry pistachio tart. Not only is the tart delicious, but the efforts behind are also admirable. Originally, Shin plans to finish in 10 minutes. However, the tart has two layers and just the strawberries have three different cuttings: Trimmed, halved and diced. Every little detail in Shin’s dessert shows how much of a perfectionist he is and the level of dedication he puts into his work out of passion. —Peter Liu ‘19

The techniques and gentleness that Sean used when preparing the desserts was extremely satisfying to watch. Each step he took into consideration, taking his time to make sure that each element was placed eloquently on the plate. The final products left my mouth watering as I was struggling to stay concentrated after they were complete and we were waiting to indulge in them. Overall, I anticipated that the strawberry tart would be my favorite, and it was even better than I imagined. I’m not sure I’m ever going to enjoy dessert as much as I did this past Sunday.

            Listening to Sean answer the questions that were asked was truly inspiring, especially since you could understand the commitment and love he had for cooking. The way he explained his journey through college and working at Eleven Madison made me want to discover what exactly I want to do when I’m older. He made me want to find something in my future that would make me just as passionate as he was about cooking. –Maddie Burt ‘19

Chef Shin provided an incredibly cool insight into the depth behind the traditional restaurant experience. For most people, dining and food-source (or more specifically, chef-intent) seems relatively disconnected. I don’t remember the last time I went to a restaurant and took time to contemplate the philosophy of the chef! Chef Shin, however, reestablished the depth of intent behind in-restaurant dining experiences that I’ve previously failed to acknowledge. –Megan Behnke ‘19

This Culinary Arts Club outing served as a reminder of the almost forgotten fact that following your dreams ultimately allows you to achieve something beautiful and, in this case, delicious. Each instance Sean Shin moved worked towards the completion of his goal in creating his pastries during our time with him. These purposeful movements seemed to serve as one of the many outward reflections of his determination and ambitions. Not only was the food delicious, and the experience great, it also served as inspiration for Culinary Arts Club members to follow their dreams, and work towards their goals with all they have.—Mia Wright ‘19

Never Too Early to Learn about Food AND Wine: a visit to Newport Vineyards and Café

On perfectly sunny day, students stood by budding grapevines and learned the science of growing grapes for a variety of wines. Our enthusiastic tour guide, Mr. Brenden Deprest, proudly explained how their organic farming led to such healthy growth and delicious reds, whites, and rosés. In the kitchen, the natural teaching and cooking abilities of Chef Andy Teixeira led to the students’ silence as they listened intently while eagerly downing pretzels and sausage.

A trip to the Newport Vineyards can be enjoyable for any person of any age. Whether or not you drink, the venue still offers a rich menu to be devoured while backed by the scenery of the grapevines and aged wine barrels. While the whole wine making process is fascinating–whether it’s learning about the care of the vines or the types of wood that contains the wine–what was a bit more tangibly stimulating was the showcase of the pretzels and the sausage. Before witnessing the magic and craftsmanship that goes into making these dishes, they had to be tasted. The best, most mouth-watering combo: the soft pretzel, made with a secret German recipe, dipped in the brown seed mustard. After every plate of food had been decimated, it was time to see the process behind them. The sausages were made of simple ingredients and put together in a not-so-simple way. The meat was emulsified and dressed with herbs and spices, then had to be packed into sheep intestine. As each little bit was pushed through the meat presser into the lining, it would be twisted and cut to form the shape of a sausage. The pretzels, cooked to a beautiful golden brown, were nearly impossible for us to fold correctly. The table was full of dough blobs. But the taste was never-failing. The Vineyards provide an unforgettable experience for both the eyes and the mouth. —Abby Gibbons ‘19

The Newport Vineyards were built upon a community of support that can be seen through the efforts and partnerships in their business. We learned about how the Vineyards came to be starting with one man making 2,000 bottles of wine to a family making over 25,000 bottles. Before learning how rosé was made, I thought that it was just red and white wine mixed together. At first, the grapes are treated like a red wine and are stemmed and crushed. But then the grapes only ferment and absorb the dark dye for 1-2 days rather than the 1-2 weeks of a red wine. After this process, the grapes are treated like a white wine and are fermented in steel tanks. I also learned that referring to how “dry” a wine is how little sugar is left as the yeast feeds on the sugar. 

In the kitchen, the chefs greeted us with pork sausage and pretzels with a mustard sauce and a cheese sauce to dip into. The sausage had lots of herbs and the pretzels were soft. I enjoyed the grainy mustard sauce with both of them. When the chefs showed us how they made the sausage, they mixed in a lot of toasted fennel for the fragrant taste. The chefs told us about how they are completely farm-to-table and make everything from scratch. We learned about their relationship with a local farmer, who supports the restaurant with many vegetables, greens, and beans up until November. –India Roemlein ‘19

The Newport Winery looked similar to any other store until we walked to the backyard where they grow their vineyards. Everything was well organized, and our tour guide told us the function of the fences and how they gather grapes. Then we walked inside and to see the cases that hold different kinds of wine. Different oaks provided different flavors to the wine (French & American oak are mostly used). I was really surprised that the oak barrels are really expensive: one American oak barrel costs 500 – 1000 dollars while one French oak barrel costs 2000 dollars. The process of oxidizing is really complicated and can easily go wrong. Too much oxidation will make the wine really sour. They control the flavor by temperature, too. When there is too much yeast–which feeds on sugar–the wine will get less sweet, and vice versa. –Sylvie Qiu ‘19

I never knew that wine making could be so interesting until we took a trip to Newport Vineyards! So many things surprised me on this trip, like the fact that an empty French oak barrel that holds over 200 bottles of wine costs $2000 or that the tanks of wine are chilled to prevent the yeast in the wine from eating the sugar in order to produce a sweet or semi-sweet wine instead of a dry wine (meaning that the wine isn’t sweet). Another thing that really interested me about the winemaking process was the bottling machine that bottles 133 cases of wine an hour and that together the bottling machine and the labeling machine cost half a million dollars. What surprised me the most, however, was that screw caps are actually better for sealing wine than corks and are more sustainable, especially since most wine bottles you see are sealed with corks. Then we got to see into the restaurant side of things and try some delicious sausages and pretzels with mustard and cheese dipping sauces. The restaurant makes everything from scratch, and all the ingredients they use are pretty local and are always in season. I also learned that sausages can be made with sheep, pig and cow casings, where the size of the sausage depends on the size of the animal–the sausages with sheep’s casing being the smallest and the sausages made with the cow casing being the biggest. I learned so much on this visit and I was really able to see how wine and food work in harmony. –Sarah Costa ‘19

Eat Well and Stay Healthy: Advice from Amanda Rigsby, RD, LDN

As the Culinary Arts Club–made up of all seniors–move on to college next year, this presentation steered them towards food habits they might embrace as they confront many of the eating–and drinking–challenges that await. Helpful information and an array of healthy snacks led the students to appreciate what Ms. Rigsby had to say and take her advice to heart.

“I loved the fact that she made the general basics of nutrition simple. A lot of the time, you hear all about new, convoluted and trendy diets but don’t really know where your own nutrition stands. It was really cool that I can now tell for myself whether or not something is healthy for my body.”   —Mia Wright ‘19

Ms. Amanda Rigsby taught our group both how easy it is to eat right, but also how easy it is to eat poorly. With college right around the corner, this seminar was much needed as a reminder to not get overwhelmed by the plethora of food choices. A common mistake is to feast on fried foods and sweets, but it’s what really provides energy and keeps your body feeling, functioning and looking right is sticking to, as Amanda puts it, a “colorful plate.” I, personally, will be trying to follow the simple advice she gave us and definitely be on the lookout for healthy snacks like the ones provided during the lecture. They were delicious! —Abby Gibbons ‘19

The most interesting thing that I took away from the lecture was the importance of fiber in a diet. Since it provides no nutrients in itself, I feel it’s kind of an overlooked facet of nutrition. Reviewing my own eating habits, I realized that although I was mostly aware of the balance between proteins, fats, and sugars, I really needed to do more to incorporate fiber into my meals, especially as I move into the unrestricted dining halls of college. –David Sozanski ‘19

Listening to Ms. Rigby talk about nutrition and staying healthy in college was very helpful and informative. She taught us about the “fab five” to look for on the nutrition label and how to think about building a plate of food in college dining halls. She highly encouraged an 80/20 diet, which seems a lot more realistic to live with especially in college. The snacks provided also showed an easy way to eat healthier.—Elise Banderob ‘19

The presentation led by RD Amanda Rigby was incredibly informative. I learned that there should be no more than 5g of sugar in a food. I also learned that by adding hydrogenated oil, companies can hide trans fat. I knew trans fat was unhealthy, but I didn’t know that it was as dangerous as being toxic at one gram’s worth or that trans fat is banned in most other countries. The healthy alternative snacks that were introduced were really good. I enjoyed the Cedar’s red pepper hummus with pita chips.—India Roemlein ‘19

Looking forward to college as a child, I thought nothing of dining halls and food in general. I expected to happily eat go-gurts every day and Annie’s white cheddar shell pasta for dinner. As I understand college more, I realize the importance of knowing what I am eating. I really appreciate Amanda’s ‘fab 5’ rule which made it very easy to understand nutritional labels and the standards of a good meal/snack. I also liked how we had many healthy snacks present to show how nutritious food could taste good. I also appreciated how Amanda acknowledged the realistic food choices of college life, like Chik-fil-a every weekend, with the 80/20 rule. —Bella Hannigan ‘19

Amanda gave us a lot of helpful advice for a healthy diet. Everyone is familiar with “freshman 15,” which also scares me a lot. However, she introduced many eating options that are both healthy and delicious, from meals to snacks. Most importantly, she taught us how to read the food labels, which can sometimes be misleading. Before, I ignored the serving size on the food label, especially on ice cream, and did not realize how many calories and sugar I consume, which is far above the recommended amount per day. Moreover, her “80/20” principle is really helpful which suggests that we can have “junk food” 20% of the time without being too guilty. After Amanda’s sharing, I have a better understanding of a healthy diet and how to fulfill it. -–Sylvie Qiu ‘19

Ms. Rigsby was able to effectively communicate the foundation and essentials to healthy nutrition in such a way that made what she was saying truly engrain in our minds. She made her talk interesting yet informative, delivering essential information in an easily digestible manner. Those who went to the talk clearly left with a much better understanding of a healthy diet as well as amazing tips and tricks to keep in mind while making the transition to college campus dining. From reading nutritional labels to understanding the importance of a healthy diet, Ms. Rigsby has definitely made me much more conscious about what I put in my body as well as helped me understand how to healthily approach a more open dining style. —Jonathan Susilo ‘19

This talk was absolutely great! I was expecting the usual spiel about eating junk foods in moderation, etc, etc, but was very pleased to hear that she had more sensible points to speak to us about. I appreciated how practical Amanda was about how college students actually live and the types of food we will be seeing next year. Her healthy snack buffet provided us with great substitutes for the usual snacks we might be craving. My favorites were the chocolate hummus and the individual sized chips and guac! She also gave us a better insight as to what we are putting in our bodies by teaching us how to be more mindful when reading ingredient labels. —Juistine DelMastro ‘19

The nutritionist discussion was very informative in the way that it opened my eyes towards the change we will be experiencing when we head off to college next year. Our bodies were not made to consume and digest junk food all the time. We need to be mindful when considering what we are putting in our bodies and focus on the benefits we could be receiving from healthier options. There were simple tips introduced, such as not wasting calories on drinks and understanding the labels of the foods we buy, that I will begin to consider and hopefully continue to think about as I am surrounded by large quantities of food next year.—Maddie Burt ‘19

I learned so much from Ms. Rigby! One thing I found especially interesting and helpful was the lesson on how to read nutrition labels. It surprised me how much fiber we should be eating in a day. And the pretzels and tzatziki tasted so good!—Sarah Costa ‘19

         Our sit-down with registered dietician and nutritionist Amanda Rigby was an eye opening experience for all those who had the chance to listen. We were served up some tasty snacks, and learned that satisfaction can come from more than just chips, soda, or ice cream. What I took away from the most was our time spent delving deep into the concepts behind a simple nutrition label. Comprehending the label required much more than just reading skills. We found understanding print on the back of every item for consumption to be an integral part to understanding one’s health. With Ms. Rigby’s help, I feel more knowledgeable about what I put into my body than ever before, and will be sure to stay away from the dreaded hydrogenated foods!—Tatum Bach-Sorensen ‘19

A Chef’s Education: Our visit to Johnson and Wales University

The beginning of the long Winter Term included a college visit, though not the kind our seniors have been making now for months. One cannot talk about food and cooking without knowing where it all starts, hence our tour of this campus highlighting the Culinary Arts.

We all had a great time learning about the details of culinary school. I was excited to visit Johnson and Wales in particular because many of the chefs at the restaurant I work at in the summer are currently attending or have graduated from culinary school there. 

For as much of a food fanatic as I am, I wouldn’t consider myself to be the best chef out there. Visiting a school where they start their students from scratch (no pun intended) and begin by teaching them the fundamentals of the Culinary Arts is inspiring and makes me feel much better that the best meal I can make is mac ‘n cheese. Students like myself, with little cooking skills, could attend school there and become a chef without any prior knowledge. My favorite part of the day was watching the different classes learn recipes in the main culinary learning building. I was very impressed with the complex as a whole, but especially how real they made the classrooms and other learning spaces feel. Rooms such as the bar setting for mixing class and the large dining spaces overlooking the water made it feel as though we were at a hotel. This provides the culinary students with real life experience to enhance their learning outside the classroom. 

In addition to learning how to cook and bake, I appreciated the fact that students also have to learn management/ public skills and how to run the front of the house as well as the kitchen. This makes for a well-rounded chef who can see the bigger picture of the restaurant, not just the dish they’re making.  The delicious pizza was a perfect way to wrap up the day and try food made by the students themselves. –Justine DelMastro ‘1

Recently the Culinary Club traveled to Johnson and Wales University to tour the campus and witness various culinary classes that take place within the school. Ever since I was younger, Food Network was a channel that was always on my television. The competitive cooking battles, along with the at home cooking shows, were very therapeutic to me. When we recently traveled to Johnson and Wales, I got to witness the beginning that most of the chefs on Food Network had experienced. Not only did a delicious aroma fill the hallways and cause my mouth to water from the start of the tour to the end, but also I was amazed at the work that the students were able to produce. I felt as if I was on the Food Network channel, watching as the chefs prepared their meals. It was insane to see how food can be transformed into art and how delicate and beautiful it can be made. While touring one of the floors within the culinary building at the university, we came across a display of sculptures crafted completely from sugar. When watching the Food Network channel, specifically Cake Wars, their sugar creations seem surreal and impossible to construct. Therefore, when I saw what college students were able to produce, I was completely astonished.

            Usually when the average high school student imagines college they picture lecture halls filled with hundreds of students. However, Johnson and Wales showed another side of education. The hands-on activities, especially the room where students were practicing their bartending skills, made learning seem fun. After this experience, a part of me wanted to change my major.—Maddie Burt ‘19

A trip to Johnson and Wales University was the perfect way to return from Thanksgiving break and jump into Winter Term. The school is filled with attractive and modern facilities and has “labs” for all types of food processes and prep. Some of the most eye-catching labs to look in on were mixology, protein carving, and a class where students had to mold sugar and chocolate into intricate and creative designs. One of the most notable things about the school is that no kitchen experienced is required to get into the school – all chefs start from square one. Then they even help chefs get footing in the culinary world by aiding them in landing competitive internships. After touring around the campus and ending in their gym students can use as they please, it was time for the long-awaited lunch. Every new hall in the tour had a new smell ranging from cooking steak to baked bread, so this food was definitely needed. The group went to a restaurant called “Red Sauce” where students of the school cook all the food. It served Italian-based cuisine. The Caprese sandwich, filled with some of the most light and fresh tomatoes and mozzarella slices was top notch. Overall, it’s a university that seems to have a tight-knit and supportive community that can inspire any chef to reach above and beyond their potential. —Abby Gibbons ‘19

Being on the Johnson and Wales campus seemed like a magical world filled with beautiful cakes and every ingredient known to man. A lot of the items they made were filled with whimsy–like the Alice and Wonderland Cake that was on display as well as beautiful swirling sculptures decorated with flowers that are entirely made out of chocolate or sugar. That’s what I like most about cooking and baking, even though it is an exact science, there is still room to be creative, which Johnson and Wales clearly shows their students. 

There were a lot of specific things that really piqued my interest. Starting out were the amazing labs, some filled with marble tables for working with chocolate, others filled with mixers for baking. It was like I was transported to all the best cooking and baking shows. I wish we could do what they are doing for my biology labs! Then there was this beautiful dining room that had an even more beautiful view of the water, where students could sign up for free for a seat at a 3-course meal made by students in their dining services class. I simply couldn’t believe it! Lastly, there was a really interesting mixology course that we got to watch where the students use water that matches the color and viscosity of certain alcoholic beverages in order to make drinks. The class was in such a vibrant room that had decorations spanning the walls and music playing in order to emulate a real bar. This all added up to a dream-like experience that made for the perfect first day back after Thanksgiving. —Sarah Costa ’19

Seeing the lively campus from afar, and the remarkable buildings which comprised the greater part of this culinary institution, was only a precursor to the treat we were in for. A learning center filled with potential and a healthy atmosphere greeted us, and it became apparent that this school has recently made great strides in adding on to its already large campus. Buildings that look not 10 years old dot the landscape, and state-of-the-art cooking equipment call the classrooms and eateries home. Learning concepts and opportunities seen nowhere else but Johnson and Wales University appear prevalent around every corner. This school encompasses traditional college ideals while maintaining its stronghold in the Culinary Arts, providing endless opportunity for those who attend, and it will be interesting to see its progression in the coming years. –Dan Teravainen ‘19

Over the past few months, college has become one of the most talked about subjects for Portsmouth Abbey seniors, and on Tuesday, November 27th, the Portsmouth Abbey Culinary Arts club embarked on what appeared at first glance to be something all too familiar: a college tour. However, the trip to Johnson and Wales University in Providence soon proved to be an experience unlike any college I had visited previously and was in fact a tour of one of the foremost culinary education programs in the country. Although I had no expectations about what a culinary school should look like, I was nevertheless astounded by the rigor and intensity of the classes we observed.

Our tour’s first stop was the state-of-the-art Cuisinart Center for Culinary Excellence, an enormous facility that houses most of the culinary program. Instead of classrooms, the building was filled with enormous glass-walled kitchens, which are referred to as “labs.” A lab-based course runs for nine days, during which students delve deeply into a single topic, culminating in a feast at the end. These classes are often very specialized, and on our tour we saw a butchering class, a bartending class, and a display of chocolate artwork fit for a gallery. Although considered as only one course, the lab classes run for six hours each day, demonstrating the rigor of the culinary program. As another example, the final exam of a wine class required students to not only identify wines while blindfolded, but also name the region, vintage, grape variety, and recommended food pairing. In addition to lab work, JW’s culinary program also includes more traditional lecture-based coursed on topics such as food safety. Students also participate in a variety of internships during their time in college for culinary employers across the country. At the end of our tour, we sampled this practical education firsthand by enjoying a slice of delicious pizza from a dining hall operated entirely by students. —David Sozanski ‘19

Our visit to Johnson & Wales University was truly eye opening to the possibilities within a culinary school. It’s amazing that all students are required to start within a beginning culinary course no matter what their major is. As we walked around and peered into the labs, we saw many students in their freshly-pressed uniforms baking bread, learning to cut meat amongst other things. Their main classroom building was beautiful, and made all the classes look that much more inviting. I enjoyed seeing the microbrewery. Brewing has always interested me because of the chemistry of growing a strain of yeast that becomes something entirely different. Touring Johnson & Wales showed me how important food management is for the food safety. –-India Roemlein ‘19

As we boarded the bus to drive to Johnson and Wales University, I didn’t know what to expect out of the culinary program. I had many questions about how a culinary arts school would operate. Did you need to have previous experience? How many of these students have just graduated from high school? Are many students older who have already attended another college with a non-culinary arts major? When we arrived, I was very surprised by the fact that there was a true campus for the school, especially since it is in Providence. After learning about Johnson and Wales University as a whole, we were given a tour around campus with special attention to culinary art classes. While walking by each classroom, you could see the details which went into each aspect of the school. Each student was dressed in a cook’s outfit, with distinction by colored scarves. Each lab was pristinely clean, with high-tech appliances. Even the notes on the whiteboards of labs were beautifully written. The mixology class was created to have the real atmosphere of a bar to train the students how to work while still having distractions around them such as music and different colored lights. As we finished the tour and went to eat lunch at Red Sauce, I was ecstatic. The whole school smelled like fresh bread so I was ready to eat. As Abby and I split a delicious caprese sandwich and cheese pizza, I thought of the students who eat these delicious meals every day. This trip helped me to understand the school system behind chefs, bakers, bartenders and sommeliers and appreciate the work that they do. –Bella Hannigan ‘19

When I signed up for the Culinary Arts Club, I was expecting, of course, to actually learn about the “Arts” of cooking. After two fantastic field trips, I finally have the chance to visit the culinary school at Johnson & Wales University. After touring through so many different culinary classes—from brewing classes to dessert classes—and walking through the advanced building, I was impressed by the rigor of the culinary arts curriculum, something I’ve never known about in the past. I was especially interested in the lab classes, where they spent hours cooking with their classmates and shared everything in the end. 

Yet the most mind-blowing moment came in the end. Our tour guide, a very friendly young man, began talking about his decision to come to Johnson & Wales. “I got into a couple schools, like Johnson & Wales and Cornell,” he told us. How great is the charm of a culinary art that convinced him to turn down Cornell? While I could hardly imagine myself doing that, I totally saw the rationale behind his decision: It’s a totally different world, but a world full of so much excitement and fun as I saw from the genuine smile of our tour guide. — David Sun ‘19

During our visit to Johnson and Wales University Cooking School, we were shocked by every single part of the school. Students had to wear chef coats to school and have classes in kitchens (labs) to practice Baking & Pastry Arts or Culinary Arts. The colors of their collars were different shades of blue or green based on their classes. The classes all focused on a variety of aspects in food making, such as sugar decoration, nutrition and science, and wine tasting… Although the students have different majors and study in different classes, everyone there shares the same passion for food. We can tell from their attentive faces in labs as well as their culinary masterpieces. –Sylvie Qiu ‘19

I had never been to a culinary school before so touring Johnson and Wales University was a completely new experience. Watching the chefs carefully craft fondant and sculpt sugar seemed so distant to my own life yet somewhat amazing. Most of these people started as untrained amateurs and throughout their four years here, they are truly able to pursue a career in the culinary industry. Seeing the potential and drive of a whole new generation of artists was inspiring, and being able to view the process was an amazing experience. From the pristine facilities to the world-class education, Johnson and Wales is truly a hub that molds students into chefs, ready to begin a new age of culinary genius. –Jonathan Susilo ‘19

You can only imagine my confusion when a peek into the vending machines placed sporadically around almost every corner featured not Cheetos or Doritos on the top shelf, but instead white chef caps and hairnets. This was not your typical college vending machine selection, but instead the options available in the culinary wing of Johnson and Wales University. The school itself was anything but ordinary. Inside the building there were your typical classrooms, but in addition, rooms that very much looked as if we had stepped into an industrial kitchen. Students were dressed in toque blanches and shaking up drinks in shiny silver mixers, swirling designs atop deserts, and measuring flour in giant mixers. The refrigeration room, bar, and fine dining area all struck up memories of my parents’ very own restaurant. This immersive environment clearly provides an edge to the culinary arts degree offered by Johnson and Wales, and it easy to see how their students can integrate so well into the actual restaurant scene after spending 4 years in an almost identical setting! –Tatum Bach-Sorensen ‘19

At Johnson & Wales Culinary School, we met some very dedicated and goal-oriented people. Before, I rarely associated food—something fun and carefree— with learning,always seemingly dutiful and laborious. A tour of the campus opened up a new door of culinary and learning for me. 

As we came to the cocktail class, the party had just begun. We were introduced to the test—making a drink in a few seconds. Music was on, students were dancing, the upbeat environment definitely added to my old definition of “testing.” What might be the best part is that by the special sanction of the government of RI, students under 21 can also consume a certain amount of alcohol for study purposes!

Walking through the big glass building, we stood by the window of a bakery class, where three girls were busy drawing something with their hands. Laid down on the cooking table were papers with hundreds of the same pattern. Looking closely, they were repeatedly practicing drawing the classy chocolate pattern that would go on a piece of cookie. The process was tedious but respectable. I had never pictured that when thinking of cooking, but that scene stuck with me. 

These are passionate, motivated people who know exactly what they want to be in life. I hope that everything goes well with their pursuit in the culinary art and that someday, I can find something that I am as passionate as they are about cooking.—Evelyn Long ‘19

Federal Hill Pizza and Chef Billy Manzo–it just doesn’t get any better.

Students were rapt as Chef Manzo humorously and candidly discussed his philosophy of making pizza and doing business. He, along with his wife and partner Christine, enthusiastically answered questions, their obvious passion–and lots of hard work–explaining their success. Federal Hill Pizza is located both in Warren and Providence.

Billy & Christine

An Abbey student encounters pizza very frequently—both the hardly biteable ones served at Stillman or the greasy ones delivered by North End Pizzeria. These pizzas epitomize the fast-paced spirit that dominates our student life. Pick up a pizza, devour the cheese,meat, and grease on it, and proceed to the next event. 

But are we missing out the beauty of pizza delicately created by the balance of proper ingredients and the process of cooking itself? Certainly at the Abbey, but not at Federal HillPizza. Last Sunday, our trip to the Federal Hill Pizzeria gave me a little insight into the beauty of pizza. Expecting a simple grab-and-go pizza trip, I was surprised and amazed by the incredible reception and lecture from Chef Billy. 

Chef Billy began with a long talk about his personal experience and the business side of the pizza business,reiterating his philosophy of creating a different mode of pizza business that differs from Domino’s almost assembly-line-like mode. Instead of optimizing hisprofit, he wanted to make the best pizza with the best ingredients. He also talked about the process of cooking itself, explaining the nuances of ingredients and cooking appliances. 

The most exciting part—eating—came after these cool experiences. The freshly-baked Margherita Pizza truly embodied Chef Billy’s cooking philosophy, harmoniously combining some of the best cheese and flour. The savor of Caesar Salad, pasta, and the dessert was also simply beyond the power of my description. 

Sitting on the bus on the way back to our lovely Cory’s Lane, I realized that the trip was not only about tasting the food but also about learning about the philosophy of cooking and appreciating its beauty. The trip offered me a new perspective of pizza, an often oversimplified and underrated food. – David Sun ‘19

Pizzas out of the thousands-dollar Neapolitan brick oven are something else. Unlike that of worldwide chain pizzerias, a bite off a slice of pizza from Federal Hill Pizza is nothing of greasy pepperoni, dense bread, and cheese that taste like plastic. And a note-taking moment from Chef Billy: Federal Hill Pizza uses authentic and original pork pepperoni, instead of beef ones that just make the pizza overall oily. From the buttery and fluffy bread to milky cheese, those pizzas taste fulfilling, but by no means heavy. The most surprising taste experienced was a watery sensation, accomplishing the rich but light texture of the pizzas. 

One cannot help but wonder who the chef behind the juicy deliciousness is. Chef Billy from Federal Hill Pizza is a true character. When asked about his vision for the restaurant, he confirmed his hope for expanding, but also stating the belief that the most important thing for any restaurant is quality. In the midst of the rapid development of the food industry, he firmly holds on to his identity and stays true to who he is. His charismatic confidence and humor will brand his restaurant and educate more eaters, as he wishes.–Evelyn Long ‘19

Chef William Manzo Jr. not only serves up some of the best pizza in Rhode Island, he does so with such charisma and enthusiasm. Hidden behind a seemingly small and innocent pizza shop lies a great hidden gem of Providence. After passing behind the counter,one finds themselves in a whole new restaurant, dark and dimly lit, with an air of romance in the decoration. From the red brick walls to the hanging light bulbs,the interior design evokes a sense of romance which can only be truly describedby the man at the centre of it all: Chef Billy. Even after 30 seconds of hearing him speak, it is evident the clear passion he has for his craft and thelocation which means so much to his own upbringing. He details the lengths he has gone to in order to obtain the most natural ingredients, which leads into the amazing taste of his final products.

The simple Margherita pizza Chef Billy presented had a certain je ne se quoi which differentiates it from others. Perhaps it was the special cheese with butter fat which gave it that extra flavor, or the impressively grand brick oven imported from Italy that made the bread just right, but the compilation of many different factors made the simple dish perfect. It was clear that in making such a basic dish,Chef Billy has dissected every small detail of the process to ensure the best quality. From water pH levels to atmospheric humidity, no factor was considered too small in serving the best dish to his customers.

Overall, Chef Billy has created a truly special dining experience, integrating his attention to detail with traditional Italian flavors, forming remarkable dishes.– Jonathan Susilo‘19

Upon taking the first step inside Federal Hill Pizza, the smell of brick ovens and cooking pizza dough danced around the room,adding to the both endearing and highly professional atmosphere of the restaurant in Providence, Rhode Island. Chef Billy Manzo, a man with one of the widest varieties of past employment imaginable, found a love for making real pizza, and it shows. His process of gathering ingredients alone, before even attempting to make the pizza, is noteworthy. He researches what ingredients will be the best, from what region of the world and for what pizza. One of, if not the most important factor in pizza is the care that is put in to making its foundations the best quality itcan be. Then, of course, the magnificent brick ovens from Italy cannot be ignored. Every detail is accounted for—the way the bricks were put into the oven, the type of wood used for the fire, and the temperature the dough should be before going into the oven.

            After learning about the intense science, business and art behind pizza, an aromatic smell wafted through the air signaling it was finally time to eat. The star of the day, the Neapolitan pizza. Dressed with cheese that had a slightly savory butter fat and an astounding red sauce on a perfectly cooked dough, each bitewas met with utter harmony. The cheese instantly melted into the amazing gooey texture cheese should be. Combined with the sauce and the crust with a slight crisp to it, it was clear the precise care that was put in to creating that pizza. That pizza tasted as pizza should. And, even with a full belly, it would be impossible or extremely regrettable to turn down the Nutella and fried dough balls. The chocolate spread melted onto the warm fried dough, making it soft but still maintaining a crispy bite. They are dangerously addictive. It’s an experience filled with enticing smells, friendly company, wonderful presentation and, of course, some of the best food any one person could ever indulge in. –Abby Gibbons ‘19

For most Americans, pizza evokes thoughts of quick delivery and greasy cardboard boxes, but at Federal Hill Pizza, one Rhode Island chefs aims to make a change. If only one word could be used to summarize Chef Billy Manzo’s philosophy of pizza, it would be “quality.” This dedication to quality starts first with the ingredients, which Manzo explained needed tobe not only excellent, but more importantly, consistently excellent. Next, the methods must be equally consistent. In developing his “flavor profile,” Manzo said that every conceivable variable, including the composition of the atmosphere, the pH of the water, and even the temperature of the dough before it goes into the oven must be taken into account to avoid huge differences in the final product. Although Manzo’s high-quality equipment, including ovens especially imported from Italy and wood that’s hand-selected from New England trees, comes with a much higher up-front cost, the businessman-turned-chef explained that in the long run, such investments actually saved money as they lasted longer with lower maintenance costs in addition to making better pizza.

            Although some might call Manzo’s attention to detail “obsessive,” the results of his commitment to quality became quickly apparent with the first bite. The first flavor to make itself known was the dough, so often an afterthought in fast food pizza. The wonderful taste and consistency of the warm pizza dough immediately concretized everything that the chef had said, from the Italian double-zero flour to each painstakingly controlled environmental variable,creating a rich and wonderful flavor independent of the toppings. We sampled two different variants of Federal Hill’s signature Neapolitan pizza, one made with shredded cheese, and the second featuring what Manzo describe as “real cheese,” containing over 18% butterfat. Just as the pizza dough had taken on a whole new dimension, so this contrast showed the same phenomena for the cheese,elevating it to a hitherto unknown richness of flavor. Atop this foundation,the fresh toppings provided just the right amount of refined and detailed flavoring in perfect combination. Through his remarkable focus on quality, Chef Billy Manzo not only turns pizza-making into an exact science, but also a fine art. – David Sozanski ‘19

To me, pizza has always been the epitome of fast food. Parmesan cheese with tomato sauce on top of kneaded dough, together were placed inside an oven for two minutes. However,just like my friend Patrick Flanigan said: “There is a beauty to a pizza;”pizza has the potential of becoming a gourmet dish, such as the one that I sawat Federal Hill Pizza in Providence. After a brief two hours with the owner,Billy, I realize that he is an absolute perfectionist. His parmesan cheese was home-made, pepper brought in only from Turkey, dough was made under the perfect conditions with filtered pH 7 water. To top all these meticulous details, heimported an original Italian oven at the price of thousands of dollars.

Billy had a vision for Federal Hill Pizza very different from money-making. In fact, he looks down upon Dominos and other pizzeria and refer to them as “tech companies.” As a high school student, I have great respect for his idea. Combining Top-Class ingredients with the intention of only making Top-Class food, Billy truly differentiated himself from the mediocre pizza places. All of these are exemplified and consolidated in his Margherita pizza. Steaming, with cheese that pulls string, and the fresh olive scent, that pizza was the best that I have ever tasted. —Peter Liu ‘19

When walking up to Federal Hill Pizza, it looks like any other small town pizza joint. However, after walking in you see all the history in the building and every calculated decision that makes the restaurant what it is today. Then there is the story of Billy Manzo Jr., who has seemingly done everything imaginable from working on movie sets to liquidating as a banker. But having worked with Wolfgang Puck himself, there is no doubt that he has a passion for making pizza, something that is evident the minute you step into his kitchen. It was clear that he enjoyed our presence, and he answered every question we asked with a huge smile on his face. One piece of advice in particular that he gave us was reallymoving: “Do because you want to do” instead of doing because of what people will think about you if you do. 

As for the food, every piece was melded together in perfect harmony. The dough had to be the right temperature in order to be baked perfectly. The cheese was made from 14% butterfat which made it extremely creamy and gooey. The tomatoes provided the perfect amount of acidity. He drizzled a mixture of olive oil and animal fat on top,the richness of which tied the whole thing together. Lastly, it was baked at 725 degrees at a lightning fast minute and a half. The whole meal was topped off with donut holes that were crunchy on the outside and chewy on the inside dusted with powdered sugar and Nutella drizzled on top. The toppings added the perfect amount of sweetness to the dish, which was surprisingly very light considering it was fried. –Sarah Costa ‘19

As the gigantic poster on the wall of the restaurant phrases it, Billy Manzo is a pizza magician: inmethod, taste, and philosophy.  

The high-quality ingredients put on Mr. Manzo’s pizza like Chilean pepper should cost him a lot,but not for Mr. Manzo; he buys them for free. After buying a few trailers of Chilean peppers, he retails half of the peppers to individual shops, profiting him enough to pay for the peppers and transportation. He only uses the remaining half for his pizzas, of course, for free. 

Billy Manzo reminds that cooking and baking—capturing the perfect taste of food— is simply chemistry.But it isn’t simple chemistry. He calls his food “product” for a good reason.Like a master-chemist writing chemical formulas and drawing chiral structures of an organic compound in a laboratory, Mr. Manzo controls anything that can influence his pizza’s taste: pH ratio, temperature, protein structure,pressure, and the list can go on. His pizza is baked under a brick oven with ventilation capable of withstanding 3000º F. This makes it possible to bake his pizzas crisp and hot in a mere one and half minutes. He also built the oven in Naples to fit the atmospheric pressures of Providence. The bricks inside the oven are freely suspended by the weight of the oven, allowing them to expand and contract. He also controls for the pH of water using water filtration system so that every food ingredient that meets the water remains neutral,which creates a purer pizza taste. Keeping everything in room temperature(73-73º F) is crucial, Mr. Manzo says, because he wants to cook the pizza foran exact amount of time, at room temperature, in the oven he selected. He compares the process to a Tango dance: “If the dough is too cold, the dance in my oven isn’t going to go too well.” This is what he believes cooking should do. His cooking reflects the man’s integrity. 

Surely the taste of hispizza does not, and cannot, betray the laws of chemistry. A simple Margherita pizza can taste a million different ways, but his pizza demonstrates the importance of ingredients and scientific attention to details. The dough was crisp, blending in with the juicy flavor of the 50% butter-cheese. The surface of the pizza was waterier than expected, but abundance of crust on the edges seemed to balance out its wateriness. The al taglio on the rectangular dish tasted more like a common pepperoni pizza and was drier than the margherita,but no less impressive. The crust did not feel like a burden hindering the taste of the pizza or the leftover, but a part that completes its toppings.   Jason Lim ‘19

Due to the ease of getting pizza anywhere at any time, I have never truly thought about all of the steps that go into making one pizza. Chef Billy Manzo showed how each decision he makes about the products and method he uses to make his pizza influences the end result. The carefully filtered water, the flour without sugar, and the twice yearly recipe adjustments show Chef Manzo’s careful attention to detail. Every decision is thought through both in respect to the amount of money that certain things would cost and the overall result it would have on the pizza. Chef Manzo’s unique background allow him to create a business in which he can buy a crate of red peppers and sell half of them to pay off the price of the entire crate. This allows him to use those peppers at basically no cost. The location of the restaurant in Providence, an old movie theater Chef Manzo used to frequent,adds to the overall story of Federal Hill Pizza. Chef Manzo showed us how the cold pizza dough gets stretched and kneaded to the perfect temperature. The red tomato sauce coats the top and the rich slices of 18% butterfat mozzarella cheese are sporadically placed around the pizza. Then the Californian olive oil is sprinkled the top of the pizza before it goes into the unmortared brick oven. Even the super dry logs are carefully chosen to ensure the best experience.The pizza comes out of the oven mere minutes later. The pizza is cut, and every single element of the pizza looks and smells amazing. As I take my first bite,the mozzarella tastes buttery and delicious. The crust is perfect, not too thin,but adds just enough support that the end does not droop each time I pick it up. I could have eaten the puffy golden-brown crust alone and still enjoyed this experience just as much. Every minute spent at Federal Hill Pizza, I learned how to appreciate both the pizza and the story behind it. –Elise Banderob ‘19

As we first walked into Federal Hill Brick Oven Pizza, we thought it was only a small store until we stepped into two spacious dining areas. Chef Billy showed up in his favorite fanciest chef jacket and asked us to introduce ourselves. His experiences aftercollege were really impressive as well as his ideas of pizza.

According to Chef Billy,making pizza is like conducting chemical experiments. He is really strict with the ingredients and the recipe so that everything will be perfect. From the acidity of water to the amount of yeast and from the temperature of the doughto the oven, he has his own particular measurement. Different types of pizza are like different chemical products resulted from different procedures. 

Chef Billy made and baked the most classic Pizza Margherita himself, and no one waited for the pizza to cool down. The rich mozzarella melted on the top and complemented well with the red sauce. The taste of basil and olive oil was really fresh. Everything went together perfectly without any excess. –Sylvie Qiu ‘19

Federal Hill Pizza, a place to adore, and a pizza shop bursting with enthusiastic employees. Owner and head chef Billy Manzo is one of them, greetingour group with his utmost appreciation and sharing his life story prior to a truly wonderful meal. Pizza not only satisfies hunger, but also brings people together. Chef Manzo set this impression upon the group, and the pizza did not disappoint. Knowing every ingredient that goes into any food before eating it makes the dish that much more delicious. What Federal Hill Pizza was able to accomplish was that, and much more. The chef had a knack for storytelling,while also introducing a perspective of fine dining, which amazes and excites at the same time. His knowledge of the business is quite respectable, and to recommend his shop to anyone would be an understatement. Indulge in this cuisine, and enjoy Federal Hill Pizza’s stunning atmosphere.  —DanTeravainen ‘19

The Crew and Billy