Cravings: Maui chef takes final bow in cooking contest, sweet treat honors “GoT”
Riccardo Menicucci, executive pastry chef at the Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea, made it as far as the final four on Food Network’s“Spring Baking Championship.”
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Riccardo Menicucci, executive pastry chef at the Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea, made it as far as the final four on Food Network’s “Spring Baking Championship.” He was eliminated Monday night, leaving three chefs to compete in the final episode May 6, airing at 6 p.m..
Menicucci started as one of 10 bakers competing for the $25,000 grand prize in the March 18 opener of the fifth season. The show is hosted by lifestyle expert Clinton Kelly, and judged by celebrity bakers Nancy Fuller, Duff Goldman and Lorraine Pascale.
Contestants have been challenged to create spring animal- themed doughnuts, watercolor cakes featuring iconic spring fruits and vegetables, blue ribbon-worthy rhubarb pies, marshmallow desserts in honor of Easter, and the like.
In a telephone interview from Maui, Menicucci said he loves working with fresh fruit and floral, summery flavors, so the spring baking contest was an ideal showcase.
Originally from Florence, Italy, Menicucci spent seven years at the high-end Italian restaurant Acquerello in San Francisco before his move to the Maui resort in November.
He said his Italian culinary expertise is put into play at the hotel’s Ferraro Bar e Ristorante, but he works with international flavors at the resort’s other restaurants. “In general, I’m happy to do everything,” he said.
One of his first tasks at Ferraro was to create an Italian-style dessert using tropical flavors he’s fond of, resulting in a coconut milk panna cotta with pineapple foam, roasted pineapple and macadamia nuts.
Menicucci starting helping to make pizza at the age of 7 in his mother’s family restaurant, but he also enjoyed art classes, encouraged by the fashion designers on his father’s side of the family.
Becoming a pastry chef was “a good mix between art and cooking,” he said.
Visit FoodNetwork.com/SpringBakingChampionship for videos of past episodes.
Pat Gee, Star-Advertiser
A toast to ‘Thrones’
Shokudo Japanese Restaurant & Bar acknowledges “Game of Thrones” mania with a special Dragon Egg Honey Toast.
Made by the manager, who I’m told is a fan of the HBO series, it’s offered for a limited time for $15.
Shokudo’s usual Honey Toast —Japanese white bread, toasted, topped with vanilla ice cream and drizzled in honey — is decorated with chocolate “ash” and candy glass emulating shards of ice. The topper is three chocolate dragon eggs.
How’s that for a perfect tribute to a show based on a book series called “A Song of Fire and Ice”?
Grab a group of friends and celebrate your favorite characters surviving one more episode, or drown your sorrows in dessert as a tribute to fallen favorites.
Joe Guinto, Star-Advertiser
DO YOU HAVE THE MAKINGS OF A BAKING CHAMP?
The Food Network is casting for the shows “Holiday Baking Championship,” “Halloween Baking Championship” and “Kids Baking Championship.” The next season of “Spring Baking Championship” starts casting in June. Interested? Go to bakingchampionshipcasting.castingcrane.com.