Guess who took a few moments out of her busy schedule to chat with The Three Kitcheneers about her participation in an upcoming event happening in Lakewood Ranch!!
Why, Christina Machamer, that’s who!!!
Ok, there’s a very big chance that you do not recognize that name - unless you are a die hard Hell’s Kitchen fan, of course.
So, allow me to give you the scoop on Christina and why we Sarasotans are excited to welcome her to town.
Christina Machemer was a culinary student who rocked Season 4 of Hell’s Kitchen. In case you are unfamiliar with that program, essentially, Hell’s Kitchen is a reality show cooking competition in which teams battle to win the taste buds of famed chef Gordon Ramsey. There’s more to it than that, but I’m just going to work under the assumption that you are familiar with both Gordon and the show.
That being said, our gal, Christina, blew it out of the water! After her win, she went on to open Gordon’s new restaurant, London West Hollywood, which happened to win a Michelin Star in the 2009 Michelin Guide - you foodsters know this is impressive stuff. Not long after, Christina went on to join the opening team at Bouchon in Beverly Hills for celebrated chef, Thomas Keller. If you are unfamiliar with Keller or Bouchon, please make familiarizing yourself with them your next priority. Keller happens to be one of 3K’s most beloved chefs.
Recently, Christina relocated to Napa Valley where she wines and dines patrons at the much celebrated B Cellars, in Calistoga. Meanwhile, Christina’s husband, Robert, now serves as the chef at Michael Chiarello’s Bottega. Hot damn. What a life, right?
But, enough of all that. Why should you care about this girl’s amazing culinary abilities and her fairly tale Napa life? Well, because she’s bringing them to the Viking Culinary Center, on Main Street, in Lakewood Ranch as part of Florida Wine Fest!! Plus, she’s a really likable, hard-working woman in the food world with family in the area. We can respect all of that. Oh, and her favorite beverage is Champagne. In my book, this Christina character is tops.
Christina will be pairing up with Chef Chris Covelli, a graduate of the French Culinary Institute who was trained by world-renowned chefs, including the outrageously talented Jacques Pepin, for one of Florida Wine Fest's exclusive Winemakers Dinners. Covelli has earned five Wine Spectator Awards of Excellence among other numerous cooking awards and is currently the senior chef instructor at Toscana Saporita Cooking School in Lucca, Italy. You locals may be somewhat familiar with Chris’ periodic cooking articles in Living on the Suncoast magazine or appearances on ABC 7, in Sarasota. Currently, Chef Covelli serves on the Board of Directors for Florida Wine Fest. Thus, it only makes sense that he and Christina will be partnering for one of the Dinners. They will present a six-course dinner, each chef taking on three plates, and pairing them with delicious wines from Somerston Wine Co.
They have yet to finalize the menu, but with Christina’s seasonal produce-centric vibe and Covelli’s ability to attain any ingredient necessary, these two will be an amazing team. They will be pairing the dishes with Granache Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet, Petit Syrah and a Merlot Blend, all from Somerston.
“It will be interesting. Each event is different and something always goes wrong. Hopefully, it will be a small challenge, but that’s what’s exciting about it ..you don’t know what to expect,” Christina tells me with the confidence that only someone who won a nationally televised cooking competition under one of the most famously angry chefs in the business can muster.
This particular Winemaker Dinner will be held at the particularly beautiful Viking Culinary Center Demo Kitchen, on April 12th. They are shooting for a ‘wine country casual’ feel, as Christina says “Denim is dressed up for us.” She continues by adding, “The kitchen is not a five-star restaurant, but it is definitely still elevated and elegant. However, people should feel comfortable so they can enjoy the wine, the food and the company.”
The representative for Somerston is an interesting fellow, according to Christina. He was in a punk band some years ago and has also had the pleasure of working for Francis Ford Coppola, which, Christina explains, means “...he’s not stuffy. At all.”
So far, this is shaping up to be one hell of a good time. There’s nothing worse than putting on airs and this event sounds like it has all of the bells and whistles of a fancy pants party, but with the laid back approach of two seasoned chefs and one too-cool-for-school wine representative.
“I’m not a fan of rules,” Christina explains. “People don't need to be prepared to come to this dinner. If you like it, then it works. It’s all about enjoyment.”
Find out more about this delectable Winemaker Dinner by visiting www.floridawinefest.com