Wine & Food Week, presented by H-E-B, will take place until June 10 in The Woodlands. Chef Carmelo Mauro from Carmelo’s Ristorante is among the 50 chefs taking part in the Wine & Food Week Wine Rendezvous Grand Tasting & Chef’s Showcase Waterford Crystal Chef of Chefs competition, with a $5,000 prize at stake. As a preview to the competition, Chef Carmelo prepares Sicilian Arancini on FOX 26 Morning News.
Chef Carmelo is a member of the Texas Restaurant Association Hall of Honor. Both of his restaurants hold the Seal of Ospitalita Italiana from the Italian Government guaranteeing the authenticity of the cuisine and Carmelo was voted Maestro della Cucina in 2011 at the Houston Italian Expo. He was born in Taormina, Sicily, and travel was his dream from early childhood.
The hotel industry gave Mauro the opportunity to work his way up from bellhop to general manager. After his training at the Hotel School in Taormina, Mauro was accepted for an apprenticeship at the Frankfurter Hoff in Frankfurt, Germany. From there he was sent to the Queens’ Hotel in Leeds, England and then to the Intercontinental Hotel in Geneva, Switzerland. His hotel career continued with the Intercontinental Hotels in Europe and Africa, the Southampton Princess in Bermuda, and the Royal Palms and Beach Club in the Cayman Islands.
After working twenty years in restaurants and hotels all over the world, Chef Carmelo moved to Houston in 1978 with his wife Hilary and their eldest daughter Luisa. Shortly afterwards they opened their first Carmelo’s Ristorante on Memorial Drive in Houston and in 1985 expanded to Austin leasing, and eventually purchasing the historic Old Depot Hotel, the oldest standing depot in the state of Texas. Both restaurants have been restored over the years and are a continual work in progress.
Chef Carmelo’s business success has been balanced with a rich family life and a very generous community spirit. With the birth of two more daughters, Tara and Liana the family became complete. He serves on the TRA Nomination Committee, the TRA and TRAEF Task Force, and the TRA and TRAEF Metro Task Force. Carmelo’s Ristorante has supported the Texas Department of Agriculture’s Go Texan Week since the beginning, funds from which are donated to the food banks; Chef Carmelo is now serving as a spokesman for this event, which encourages restaurants to buy and use Texas produce, meat and wines. Since the inception of the event, Chef Carmelo has supported Cleverley Stone in raising funds for the Houston Food Bank with her Houston Restaurant Week.
Presently, Chef Carmelo is also serving on the Ambassador’s Council for Interfaith Care Partners and from 2002 until 2007 he served on their board. He received the Volunteer in Kind award for 2009 from the West Houston Chamber of Commerce and he was their 2009 Education Partnership Award winner. In 2007, Chef Carmelo was the recipient of the Ben Gurion Leadership Award. For the year 2007-08, he served as President of the Texas Restaurant Association and is a past president of the Houston Restaurant Association. From 2000-06 Carmelo sat on the Advisory Board of the Miller Career and Technology Center in the Katy Independent School District and has recently rejoined the board. For three years between 2000 and 2003, Carmelo sat on the board of the TRAEF (Texas Restaurant Association Education Foundation). Carmelo’s Ristorante pioneered a program, the first of its kind in the nation, opening a restaurant teaching entrepreneurial skills at Del Valle High School, just outside of Austin, in 2001 to give students the tools they need to successfully pursue a career in business. The restaurant serves as a business laboratory accompanied by a three-year curriculum.
Chef Carmelo, who continues to be very active in Austin and Houston with his altruism, has been recognized widely through the years in Houston and Austin for his commitment to society receiving numerous other awards through the years for his community service. He was recognized by the National Restaurant Association as their Cornerstone Humanitarian of the Year in 2001.
Sips, Suds & Sliders, presented by The Woodlands Mall, will take place Friday, June 8 from 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. at The Woodlands Waterway Marriott on 1601 Lake Robbins Drive in The Woodlands. Tickets cost $20 in advance and $25 at the door. The Texas-size celebration will feature live music, specialty beers, values wines and a gourmet slider competition.
Tickets cost $125 in advance for the Wine Rendezvous Grand Tasting & Chef Showcase and will take place at the Woodlands Marriott Waterway on 1601 Lake Robbins Drive in The Woodlands.
On the Web:
Wine & Food Week 2012 — http://www.wineandfoodweek.com/
TICKET INFORMATION: www.wineandfoodweek.com or call 713.557.5732
Sicilian Arancini (yields 16 servings)
- 3 ¾ to 4 cups vegetable stock
- 4 tablespoons butter
- ¾ cup finely chopped onion
- 1 cup Carnaroli or Arborio Rice
- ½ cup dry red wine
- ½ cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus extra for garnish
- 1 ½ tablespoons chopped fresh basil and parsley
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- ½ cup chilled Bolognese Sauce
- 2 cups Bufala Mozzarella
- 1 cup Sweet Peas
- Vegetable oil for deep frying
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup dry Italian breadcrumbs
- In a saucepan bring stock to simmer. Cover, set aside and keep hot.
- Melt 3 tablespoons of the butter in a separate saucepan over medium-high heat, add the chopped onion, sauté until transparent – about 4 minutes then add the rice and cook stirring constantly for about 1 minute, add the wine and cook stirring until absorbed. While stirring continually with a wooden spoon begin adding the stock in ½ cup increments allowing the liquid to become completely absorbed by the rice between additions.
- Cook about 20 minutes, until the rice is tender and the risotto is creamy. Add the Parmigiano-Reggiano, herbs, salt and pepper. Combine all ingredients well. Transfer to a mixing bowl and allow to cool completely.
- Using a small scoop or large spoon, divide the risotto into portions the size of 3 tablespoons, use the hands to form the portions into ball shapes.
- Press a hole in the center of each risotto ball and fill the center with a teaspoon of the Bolognese sauce, Bufala Mozzarella and sweet peas. Press the opening closed, roll the ball in your hands until it is smooth.
- In a large saucepan, heat 2 inches of oil to 360 degrees F.
- Place the flour, remaining 2 eggs (lightly beaten) and bread crumbs in separate bowls; season each bowl with Parmigiano-Reggiano, salt and pepper.
- Coat each risotto ball first in the flour, then the eggs, then the bread crumbs. Ensure each ball is completely coated.
- Fry the balls a few at a time, turning once during cooking so they are evenly browned. Transfer the Arancini to paper towel lined plates to drain; serve hot or warm.
~~~ Buon Appetito!