Connecticut’s most innovative chef spills secrets and recipe

*Featured image: 2007. © Basso Cafe Restaurant. All rights reserved

Chateau Haut Brion 1959, Scarlett Johannson and making mistakes: What makes a great chef?


To celebrate this year’s Greenwich Wine + Food Festival (kick starting September 23rd and running for 4 delicious days) The Cooking Junket has got in touch with one of the most innovative chefs of Connecticut: Chef Renato Donzelli of Basso Café in Norwalk


A minute with Chef Renato:

#1. How would you describe your food?

I would describe as genuine and delicate but also simple and creative.

#2. What is the best advice you were given in the kitchen?

Don’t be afraid to make mistakes.

#3. How would you describe the CT dining scene?

 It is gradually evolving and demanding.

#4. What wine pairing or beer would you recommend with your recipe?

The dish I am presenting at the Most Innovative Chef event will be ‘Canape of Filet of Beef with chorizo and eggplant with walnut pate.’

With this I would recommend  Chateau Haut Brion 1959, hahaha!! but a young Cabernet Sauvignon or Pinot Noir will work.

#5. Who would your 3 dinner guests be to cook for?

Barack Obama, Alex Guarnaschelli and Scarlett Johansson.

#6. Last meal on earth?

I believe is not about choosing a final meal by quality or quantity; in fact,  it should be chosen by who you are going to share it with and where.

But if I’d have to choose it would be a Pizza Napoletana and red wine. Although not any simple pizza; have to be  a thin crust Oak wood oven baked pizza with

San Marzano tomatoes from the volcanic valley of Mount Vesuvius with mozzarella di bufala from Campania;  Paired with a nice glass of Barolo wine.



Pan Roasted stuffed Fontina ands   spinach pork chop served with hard polenta and black grapes sauce.

Chef Renato and  thirteen other local chefs will be honored (and cooking at!) the Most Innovative Chefs Gala, which is the Friday night event of the festival (September 25), and will feature a silent auction to benefit Paul Newman’s Hole in the Wall Gang Camp and The Greenwich Dept. of Parks and Recreation, as well as a performance by the legendary reggae band, The Wailers.

The Festival Most Innovative Chefs Gala is just one event in a blockbuster weekend lineup; the first Champagne Dinner Under the Stars event will take place on Thursday evening to kick off the festivities, and on Saturday, the Culinary Village, the center of the entire GREENWICH WINE+FOOD FESTIVAL, will offer tastings and demonstrations, celebrity chef book signings, the fourth annual Burger Battle, the second annual Top Bartender’s Showdown, Barbecue & Bluegrass, and a live musical performance by Grammy and CMA award-winning country superstars Little Big Town.

For tickets, head to


IMAGE: 2007. © Basso Cafe Restaurant. All rights reserved
IMAGE: 2007. © Basso Cafe Restaurant. All rights reserved


Pan Roasted stuffed Fontina , spinach pork chop served with polenta and black grapes sauce.
Recipe Type: Main
Cuisine: Italian
Author: Renato Donzelli of Basso Café in Norwalk
Most innovative Chef from
  • For the Stuffed Pork Chop
  • Ingredients
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 Lb baby spinach
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 pound capocollo (spicy Italian ham), cut into small dice
  • 1/4 Fontina cheese, slides small square
  • 4 thick-cut (1 1/2 inches) pork chops for stuffing.
  • Black grapes seedless ½ Lb (sliced in half)
  • 16Oz good burgundy or Cabernet wine
  • ¼ teaspoon of sugar.
  • 2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cubed
  1. Directions
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in large saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic; cook, stirring occasionally, 1 minute. Add spinach, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/8 teaspoon pepper, cook, stirring, just until spinach is wilted, about 2 minutes. Remove the spinach mixture to a medium-size bowl; let cool completely.
  3. Place the pork chops on a flat work surface; cut a small slit horizontally, Stuff each chop with 1/4 spinach and add couple pieces of cheese, Secure chops with toothpicks.
  4. Preheat oven to 400 degree F.
  5. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in large skillet. Season each chops with salt and pepper cook 3 minutes per side or until browned. Place the skillet and the chops in the oven; Bake the chops in the oven for 15 minutes or until the internal temperature registers 155 degrees on an instant-read thermometer when inserted in the pork. Remove chops to a platter; keep it warm.
  6. For the SAUCE: In a sauce-pot medium heat, add the seedless sliced black grapes, ½ spoon of garlic chopped, ¼ teaspoon of salt, ¼ teaspoon of sugar and stir, add wine and Bring to a boil and cook until reduced by half and slightly syrupy, about 7 minutes; remove from the heat. Whisk in the butter for a glossy sauce
  7. To SERVE: Place the chop in a plate add the sauce.

2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cubed


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s