A top chef whose star power has sizzled on the Food Network will host an authentic Italian meal Monday at Henry Social Club restaurant in Columbus.
Mario Rizzotti, an Italian culinary expert and “Iron Chef America” judge, will prepare cuisine for a sold-out crowd of 75 guests, said Gethin Thomas, chef and owner if the restaurant at 423 Washington St.
This meal will be part of the Rome-born Rizzotti’s “4 the Love of Italian Food Tour” nationally to educate Americans on healthy eating — and learning the difference between ingredients such as actual healthy virgin olive oil and those loaded with artery-clogging trans-fats such as hydrogenated soybean oil.
Chef Adam Weisell, owner of Aurelia Osteria in Chicago, will accompany Rizzotti. Restaurant guests will be introduced to dishes they may have never heard of before and which include ingredients that are true products of Italy.
The Food Network recently contacted Henry Social Club after reading reviews of the restaurant online and also noting that Thomas has worked as a chef in Europe. It was booking Indiana restaurants for the tour.
“I thought it would be good for the community,” Thomas said. “And I thought it would be good for the staff to have someone else besides me tell them that they are a really good team.”
Rizotti has been promoting authentic, Italian food products since he moved to the U.S. more than 20 years ago. After starting in the U.S. as a dishwasher in restaurants, Rizzotti’s career in the culinary industry escalated.
In 2005, he joined Food Network’s “Iron Chef America” show where he has been called to judge meals prepared by celebrity chefs Mario Batali, Bobby Flay and others.
The “4 the Love of Italian Food Tour” is targeted to smaller cities throughout the U.S.
The Columbus event sold out in 18 minutes at $95 per plate, Thomas said. Originally, 276 people responded on Facebook with a desire to attend.
“I started out helping people understand the difference between real Italian products and fake. Now my journey has new meaning,” Rizzotti said in a news release. “I love the United States but see a country that is eating themselves sick through poor food choices. Diabetes, obesity and high blood pressure are increasing even in our youth.”
Thomas will serve in an administrative role for the evening, making sure that all ingredients, recipes and plans are prepared for the meal.
TV audiences know Mario Rizzotti best as the seasoned-yet-approachable judge on The Food Network’s “Iron Chef America,” where he was called to judge Iron Chefs like Mario Batali, Michael Symon, Marc Forgione, Bobby Flay, Masaharu Morimoto and others.
After leaving Rome, Italy, in his early 20s, he moved to the U.S. and has been educating food lovers everywhere about authentic Italian ingredients. As Italian Culinary Expert for Academia Barilla, Rizzotti helped consumers understand the differences in olive oils, balsamic vinegars, Italian cheeses and cured meats, and how to distinguish real Italian products.
He has been asked to emcee and judge at numerous culinary events including Chicago Gourmet, Gelato World Tour, Bellavita Expo and other gatherings.
And he is often sought after for advice when chefs open new restaurants and create new menus.
He resides outside of Chicago with his wife and three children.