By Mary Ann Bourbeau
RED BANK – If you’re going to the Count Basie Theatre this weekend, make sure to bring your “Appetite.”
The second “Appetite – a Gastronomic Experience” takes place Friday through Sunday, Aug. 1-3, with nationally renowned chefs and area restaurateurs on hand to discuss and demonstrate their artistry and craft.
Andrew Zimmern will take the stage at the Basie on Friday, Aug. 1, for a live cooking demonstration and interactive Q&A. Zimmern, winner of the James Beard Award, is best known as host of the Travel Channel series “Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern.”
Appetite continues on Saturday, Aug. 2, and will feature Giada De Laurentiis, a best-selling cookbook author and an Emmy-award winning personality on The Food Network.
“With two world-renowned celebrity chefs like Giada De Laurentiis and Andrew Zimmern, our goal to develop Appetite into New Jersey’s premiere culinary arts experience is nearly complete,” said Izzy Sackowitz, vice president of operations at the Basie and co-creator of Appetite. “Having them cook onstage and interact with the crowd is a rare opportunity, and along with the Appetite Afternoon lineup, we consider this New Jersey’s premiere culinary event.”
Saturday includes Wine and Dine events, including a build your own Bloody Mary bar, a mozzarella-making demo, olive oil and cheese tastings and a Q&A with Phil Deffina, executive chef at David Burke Fromagerie.
Sunday’s Blues and Brews event includes microbrew beer and balsamic vinegar tastings, Porkrollpalooza and a lesson in decorating, party planning and table settings. There will also be Italian wine tastings, curated by Victor Rallo Jr., owner of Basil T’s Brewery & Italian Grill in Red Bank and Undici Taverna Rustica in Rumson. Rallo, a wine critic and host of the PBS Show “Eat! Drink! Italy! With Vic Rallo,” will have 40 Italian wines to sample.
“This is a nice event to bring to the Count Basie Theatre,” he said. “It’s a great opportunity to get people involved in food trucks, coffee, olive oil and wine tastings. My interest in wine started when my mother put some in my bottle as a kid.”
While that may be a joke, his passion for everything culinary is serious business to Rallo. He started out working in his father’s restaurant in North Jersey, and even though he went to law school, Rallo never left the food business.
“It’s in my blood,” he said.
Rallo visits Italy six to eight times each year, where he travels to different areas, learns about new wine varieties and films his television show.
“There is no other culture in the world where food and wine go together as they do in Italy,” he said.
Among the restaurants participating in Appetite’s daytime events are Red Bank’s Buona Sera, Danny’s Wine Bar & Grill and Pazzo. Also participating will be Cve, A Paleo Eatery in Avon-By-The-Sea; The Rollin’ Bistro from Sea Bright; Sickles Market in Little Silver and butcher Stew Goldstein from Monmouth Meats.
The food trucks that will be lined up on Monmouth Street will include El Lechon de Negro, Freezy Freeze, Johnny’s Pork Roll Truck and Shanghai Sogo.
The Appetite Afternoons will feature live music on the Count Basie Theatre patio area, with Monmouth county rockers Ardvark Smile and the country band After the Reign on Saturday, and Red Bank’s Jukebox Criminals, the Billy Walton Band and Chuck Lambert on Sunday.
The Appetite Marketplace will serve up a culinary shopping experience with fine foods and kitchen accessories for sale. The vendors will donate a percentage of their weekend earnings to the JBJ Soul Kitchen. Some of the participants will be 2 Chicks with Chocolate from South River, Born to Hula Hot Sauce from Highlands, K9 Confections of Sea Girt and The Hangover Pretzel Company of Freehold.
Admission to the daily events is $10. Tickets for Zimmern are $29-$99, and tickets for De Laurentiis are $39-$165.
Additional information and tickets are available by calling the box office at 732-842-9000 or visiting www.countbasietheatre.org.
Vibe writer Mary Ann Bourbeau can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.