Fare event to salute all things Italian

Michael Rodgers
Michael Rodgers

An annual benefit event showcasing food, wine and spirits will salute all things Italian.

Michael Rodgers, executive chef of Maggiano’s Little Italy at the Denver Pavilions, will prepare a special menu for the VIP luncheon at Edesia, scheduled for April 8 at the Wine Country Inn, located at 777 Grande River Drive in Palisade.

The VIP luncheon is set for 11 a.m., followed by the main event from 2 to 5 p.m. Tickets to the VIP luncheon sell for $125 and also include admission to the main event. Tickets to the main event sell for $65. For tickets or more information, call 464-5777 or visit www.edesiapalisade.com.

The  Wine Country Inn has hosted for eight years the fund-raiser for the Marillac Clinic, which provides a range of health care services to Mesa County residents. The event raised $30,000 in 2017, bringing to $140,000 total contributions over the past seven years. Edesia is presented by Alpine Bank, St. Mary’s Medical Center and Peach Street Distillers in addition to other sponsors.

Rodgers said he plans to prepare four courses for the VIP luncheon with dishes from the Apulia region, Florence, Rome and Sicily. Food will be paired with Italian wines as well as Colorado wines to offer a comparison.

Rodgers said the cuisine will be based on authentic regional dishes. “The secret is to keep the dishes simple, fresh and local.”

Ian Kelley, general manager of the Wine Country Inn, said the wines will compliment the food. “We think our guests will appreciate the opportunity to sample unfamiliar Italian wines and then to compare those profiles with Colorado wines.”

Rodgers has worked with Maggiano’s for more than 17 years. Maggiano’s operates 52 locations across the United States, specializing in classic and contemporary Italian-American cuisine.

Rodgers said he grew up in a large Italian family and learned his cooking skills from his grandmother and parents. Rodgers earned his culinary credentials from Le Chef.

The main event will feature chef demonstrations, libations and live music.

Three chefs will demonstrate their skills at preparing Italian cuisine: Dave Kassera, executive chef of the Wine Country Inn; Vincenzo Favale of Enzo’s Ristorante Italiano and Chris Wilson with Ristorante Pantuso’s.