Malibu Seen

VIVA ITALIA!

Celebrity chef Celestino Drago made his way down to the Italian Cultural Institute the other day to help kick off a culinary arts extravaganza. It was all part of the sixth annual Italian Language Week-a celebration of all things Italian.

Guests sipped champagne under the stars and checked out a delicious exhibit on the history of our favorite food from World War II to the present day. Professor Giuseppe Dell’Osso, the chairman of the Accademia Italiana della Cucina, flew in from Rome to give us the inside dish. “There is no one kind of Italian cooking,” Dell’Osso told Malibu Seen. “It is made up of many, many regional cuisines. You can you start out in the Emilia-Romagna area with its style of food, but if you drive 40 kilometers, you’ll find something completely different. That is the beauty of it.”

What makes Italian cuisine special? “It’s no one thing in particular,” the food aficionado explains. “It’s not just a clarinet or a violin that makes the music special, it’s the entire symphony. Italian cooking is about passion, it’s about love and it’s constantly evolving.”

No one knows that more than Drago, who began his L.A. culinary career in the days when Italian food meant pizza, garlic bread and Chef Boyardee. “When I first started out in Los Angeles, you could only get basics like basil at certain times of the year,” he says. “We were constantly improvising. Now basil is everywhere. Today, I can get anything I want; porcini mushrooms, even truffles.”

While Drago was busy fixing up the dessert buffet, guests made their way to the back patio for an evening of music and specialties from Emilia-Romagna. Chefs in the ICI kitchen were slicing up all kinds of traditional salumi served with chunks of aged parmesan and 25-year-old balsamic vinegar.

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There was a hearty tortellini in brodo, an appetizing pork entrée and a delicious dolce-all washed down with a selection of sparkling wines from the region.

But the gourmet dinner and guest lecture was just the starter when it came to this week-long spread. The flavor-filled festivities also featured a cooking class by famed chef Gino Angelini, who has counted heavyweights like Luciano Pavarotti, Frederico Fellini and even the Pope among his satisfied customers. Drago was back to share his secrets during a special master cooking class and Food Network star Giada De Laurentiis was honored for her tasty kitchen contributions.

The week wrapped up at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, where legendary designers Lella and Massimo Vignelli received the Lifetime Achievement Award for their cutting edge creations. Bravissimi!

GETTING RACY

From Model Ts to beach buggies, pick-ups to Porsches, Los Angeles is at the epicenter of our car crazy culture. So you can bet that every big wheel in town will be on hand when the L.A. Auto Show marks its 100th year. Auto buffs will be peeling out to the Los Angeles Convention Center for a look at the latest and greatest concept cars as well as sweet vintage classics, hot hybrids, titanic trucks and really cool racers. The showcase shifts into gear on Nov. 30 with a high octane VIP preview party and continues until Dec. 10. Zoom! Zoom!

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