Monday, January 21, 2013

Morina tops field in Signature Chef Invitational

Giovanni S. Morina
ALBANY -- Giovanni S. Morina won the Signature Chef Invitational, one of the highlights of the 4th annual Wine & Dine for the Arts that raised an estimated $100,000 for local arts organizations during its Thursday through Saturday run.

Morina, owner of Gio Culinary Studio in Voorheesville, topped five other competitors, each of whom was given a mystery basket of calamari, escargot, quail and crayfish and 45 minutes to turn the ingredients into something special.

He made pasta with crayfish and fried calamari, and quail with escargot and spinach. His prize package included cookware and other kitchen equipment from Different Drummer’s Kitchen and a Big Green Egg charcoal grill from Adirondack Appliance.

Morina has a long albeit low-key presence on the Capital Region dining scene. His resume includes graduating from Schenectady County Community College's well-regarded culinary program in 1998 and cooking gigs with such now-gone businesses as the restaurant L'Ecole Encore and the gourmet market Cowan & Lobel. In addition to owning and operating Gio Culinary School, since 2011 he has operated Gio Cakes, specializing in custom cakes and desserts previously offered by Gio Culinary Studio.

In the Slider Slam portion of the festival, the judges selected Slidin' Dirty, a local food truck operation, as the winner for its "Dirty Asian slider" with beef, bok choy, shiitake mushroom, scallion and Asian mustard. The people’s-choice award went to Ken Kehn of Angelo’s 677 Prime for his "Juicy Lucy" slider with fontina, truffle, Ommegang-caramelized onion, aioli, pickle, and poppy seed bun.

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