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One of the tiramisù prepared by Chef Perbellini.
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One Thousand Chefs Making Tiramisù: The International Day of Italian Cuisines

Meryle Evans / January 28th, 2013

Every year, on January 17, a vast network of Italian culinary professionals—members of the GVCI (Virtual Group of Italian Chefs) who work in over 70 countries around the world—gather, virtually, to commemorate the International Day of Italian Cuisines. Dedicated to preserving and improving the standard of quality and authenticity of Italian gastronomy, they present awards annually, and designate an official dish to represent their acclaimed cuisine. Tiramisù was the honoree for 2013, and chefs from Tokyo to Moscow to New York City whipped up egg yolks, sugar, and mascarpone, dipped lady fingers in coffee, and dusted cocoa powder, then added a variety of ingredients to prepare their own versions of the iconic dolce.

In Manhattan, at The International Culinary Center School of Italian Studies, Michelin two-star chef Giancarlo Perbellini of Ristorante Perbellini in Isola Rizza demonstrated several different tiramisùs, including a simple uncooked, classic another with amaretti, white wine, and Marsala, and a modernist finale, crowned with a layer of chocolate gelatin. What is most important, Perbellini stressed, is using great quality ingredients rather than following one specific recipe. A relatively "young" dessert in the Italian repertoire, there are several theories about the origin of tiramisù, with one creditable claim that it was made in a bakery in Treviso in the last century. Whatever, the dish the GRVC dubs "a piece of heaven in your mouth" was consumed with gusto, along with Italian sweet wines.

The International Day of Italian Cuisines, sponsored by Grana Padano, was the brainchild of Australian journalist Rosario Scarpato, a missionary for authentic, as opposed to reinterpreted, Italian food. The event at ICC attracted an audience of prominent Italian culinary luminaries, renowned for their establishments in the United States. Piero Selvaggio, owner of Valentino Restaurants, came in from California. Sirio Maccioni of Le Cirque proclaimed "I only believe in Italian cuisine,” while Tony May, of SD26, celebrating his 50 years in America, spoke of his memorable career, concluding, "I’m not done yet, I have a long way to go.” GVCI named executive chef Mark Ladner of Del Posto in New York City, Chef of the Year, the first non-Italian to win the award, citing “his sensible interpretation of regional Italian ‘cucina classica.’” Matteo Bergamini, executive chef at New York City's SD26, was proclaimed Emerging Chef of the Year.

The celebration continued at a dinner at the Four Seasons, where the Grana Padano Italian Cuisine Worldwide Awards honored individuals "who have made an outstanding contribution to the introduction, spreading, and preservation of Italian food and wine culture in the countries they live in.” The winners were Selvaggio, Japanese importer of Italian wine Tara Tan Kitaoka, South African chef/owner Georgio Nava of 95 Keenan and Carne in Capetown, and Russian food photographer Alexander Averin.

Next year again, on January 17, a date selected because it commemorates the feast of Saint Antonio Abate, patron of domestic animals, the GVCI will celebrate with another "piece of heaven in your mouth.”