Contributor Brooklynne Peters attended chef Nick Stellino’s cooking class at Abacus yesterday and files this report:
According to chef Nick Stellino, star of Nick Stellino Cooking with Friends, Cucina Amore I, II and III, Nick Stellino’s Family Kitchen I, II, III, IV and V, and the PBS specials Nick Stellino’s Dinner Party, Nick Stellino: Food, Love & Family, and Nick Stellino Cooking With Friends, the art of cooking is likened to knowing “what it’s like to stop the hands of time the moment your lips touch hers.” Catch phrases like this, in addition to his cooking, are what captivated Stellino’s Dallas audience Saturday morning at the cooking class he hosted at Abacus.
Stellino, a native Sicilian, led the class through some of his signature recipes, including garlic and oil pasta and clams with sausage and tomatoes. When Stellino wasn’t impressing the crowd with his dishes, he was entertaining them with anecdotes, jokes, and his theories about food.
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“Notice the way I add the salt,” Stellino said at one point during the presentation, dramatically holding a pinch of salt high above the pot before sprinkling it in. “It means nothing, but it looks good on national television.”
The ardent group of Dallasites who signed up for the class to learn more about cooking pasta got the unexpected benefit of entertainment on the side.
“I think the people did not expect to have the personal interaction,” said Stellino. “I like to create relationships. It was very easy for me to walk around the tables and [make them] feel as if they’d just come to my house for dinner.”
It goes without saying that Stellino is a master of his craft. His spaghetti was light and flavorful, and he made use of all of the bells & whistles in Abacus instructional space, but Stellino divulged that his mother, who works with a dull knife and old pots and pans, still “kicks his ass.”
Catch Stellino’s upcoming project on PBS next year, a one-man cooking show that takes him back to his roots. He plans to show the evolution of several dishes, talking to farmers and artisans along the way.