Malcolm Jolley talks to one of Two Sisters about their new dinner initiative.
Angela Marotta is the CEO and one of the Two Sisters that give her family’s Niagara-on-the-Lake winery its name. Two Sisters Vineyards announced recently that they were joining a dining series called Sotto una Buona Stella (‘Under a Lucky Star’) which began a few years ago by the Italian Consulate in Toronto, featuring celebrated chefs from Italy. The dinner at the winery’s restaurant Kitchen 76, featuring Chef Caterina Ceraudo of Dattilo restaurant in Calabria and Kitchen 76’s Chef Justin Lesso, will raise funds for the Culinary Institute at Niagara College and is to be held on February 23 – click here for details. I contacted Ms. Marotta by phone recently to find out how the event came about in the interview below.
This interview has been edited for length, clarity and style.
Good Food Revolution: I have heard of the Sotto una Buona Stella, or Under a Lucky Star, dinners before at Buca in Toronto, but how did you get it to come to Niagara?
Angela Marotta: We are good friends with the Italian Consul General in Toronto, Giuseppe Pastorelli. We’re involved in a number of boards. I’m on the board of ICFF, the Italian Contemporary Film Festival, and I’ve met Mr. Pastorelli a number of times, and he’s been to the winery. He’s the one who developed Sotto una Buno Stella and initiated the partnership with Buca in 2015. The original purpose was to raise funds for the Culinary Institute at George Brown College in Toronto. I had been to Sotto una Buona Stella a few times – you know we love food and wine at Two Sisters and are always looking for an interesting experience. A few months ago we were thinking that we have such a strong connection with our Italian heritage, and we’re also strong members of the community in Niagara, and we would love to lend support, especially to the culinary school at Niagara College. So, I thought Sotto una Buona Stella would be a good opportunity to for Two Sisters to find another way to raise funds for the Culinary Institute at Niagara College, just like Buca does for George Brown. I connected with Giuseppe Pastorelli, and proposed that we extend the dinner series to Two Sisters for a second night on the same week. The cost is still just one flight for this one time that the chef is here. Well, the vision was aligned and everyone was agreeable to it, so it’s happening.
Good Food Revolution: And your chef, Caterina Ceraudo, is a pretty good fit for a dinner in a winery, too.
Angela Marotta: Chef Caterina is very highly regarded in Italy, with good Calabrian roots. I believe she was awarded a prize for Top Female Chef in 2017, and she’s a Michelin starred chef. We also have a lot in common between our families as the Ceraudo family also owns a winery. They make biodynamic wines. So, it really is just a perfect opportunity and I am so glad it’s happening.
Good Food Revolution: It’s very cool. Your family has literally dug roots into the soil of Niagara, but now you’re establishing figurative ones by investing back, in a way, in Niagara College. We’ve covered on GFR how Two Sisters has a very major focus on food, and the food service part of the winery is very important to your identity. So, I think it makes perfect sense that fundraising to invest back into the future local chefs and hospitality professionals that may well end up working at Kitchen 76, or your tasting room one day, is fitting.
Angela Marotta: Absolutely, as a family we really do believe it’s important to support the college. A lot of our staff comes from Niagara College, so that’s awesome. We also think it’s important to offer such exceptional culinary experiences, which can only help to enhance Niagara’s growing reputation as a food and wine mecca.
Good Food Revolution: This will also be a great opportunity for the cultural exchange that the Consulate is creating by making Chef Ceraudo’s experience that much deeper. It’s pretty cool that she can come out and see our wine country and even cook in it.
Angela Marotta: Of course! And the menu will reflect that. Maybe a little more rustic than in the city, but still sophisticated. It will be wine-focused. She has such a deep family connection with wine in general, and I believe she’s a sommelier as well; she’s got some credentials there. It’s going to be really interesting and I look forward to it very much.
Find out more about this dinner at twosisters.com.