This week we are getting ready to host our first Pop-Up Dinner with Chef Stefano Masanti and his wife, Raffaella. Our winery president, Tom Davies, met Stefano and Raffaella a few years ago while traveling with his wife and daughter through Italy. It was actually Tom’s daughter, Michaela, who chose the small, charming hotel in the town of Madesimo as their destination. Little did the Davies family know that stop would include one of the most delicious and memorable meals, and would lead to a long friendship between the two families, and now, their businesses too.
Michaela shares her version of discovering Stefano, Raffaella, and their Il Cantinone Restaurant:
I first met Stefano Masanti and Raffaella Mazzina when I was traveling in Italy with my parents. We were staying in Sesto Calende, near where my family originated, and not sure of our next move. As a fourteen year old flipping through guidebooks, my criteria for a hotel exhausted itself at ‘has a pool’. However, something about the Sport Hotel Alpina, located in the Italian Alps, stuck; I shared this with my parents and we headed there the next day.
When we arrived, we found the hotel also had a small restaurant called Il Cantinone. Shortly after arriving we ordered food. Lots of food. The best food I have ever had. Stefano prepared his tasting menu for us, which essentially entails course after course of creativity and the juxtaposition of wonderful flavor profiles. Raffaella, an exceptional Sommelier, carefully selected and poured each wine. While my mother and I had to bow out after a handful of courses, my father continued to taste well into the double-digits. Even as a young teenager, I considered that meal one of the most impressive experiences I have ever been part of.
Harvest Ball. I knew Stefano and Raffaella were special when they simply said “yes”. While I was undoubtedly excited for the beginning of the relationship between Stefano and Raffaella and V. Sattui, I had no idea what that would ultimately mean to me.
Each year from April to November, Stefano and Raffaella join us as our in-house special events chef and catering manager, respectively. Following my graduation from college last May, I began working alongside Stefano and Raffaella at V. Sattui. I always had a deep respect for their relationship and partnership with the Winery and my family; however, I did not expect that a year later Stefano and Raffaella would be among my dearest friends.
Stefano and Raffaella share both their goodness and talent with everyone and to be honest, it is hard to say which outshines the other. Among the most humble and generous people I know, Stefano and Raffaella also boast monumental accomplishments in the world of food and hospitality.
In addition to Stefano receiving a Michelin star, their restaurant, Il Cantinone, was named the best Italian restaurant that promotes local food and farmers by Gambero Rosso, a well-respected food and wine publication. Furthermore, Il Cantinone was selected as one of the best 60 restaurants in Italy and top 10 in Lombardia by L’Espresso Guide. Stefano is also Vice President of “CHIC, Charming Italian Chef”, one of the most important chefs’ associations of this time. Finally, Stefano was awarded Italian Chef of the Year for the promotion of Italian culture at the 2014 Merano Wine Festival.
I am so happy they have become family to both me and to the Winery I was raised in, and that we now have the opportunity to share their magic and the exceptionality of their restaurant with you at the Il Cantinone Pop-Up Dinner! Trust me, you do not want to miss this one.