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World Fusion Culinary Festival to Cook Up a Storm

Oct. 14, 2004 – World fusion cooking quiz 101: True or false?
1. Fungi in the Caribbean, polenta in Italy, and tamales in Mexico are all made with basically the same ingredients. Put it all together in one kitchen, and the result is world fusion cuisine.
2. Cuisine prepared by two great chefs from Italy along with the U.S. Virgin Islands Culinary Team will make your taste buds so happy they will spontaneously burst into song.
If you answered "true" to both of these statements, you may be ready to participate in the World Fusion Culinary Festival.
On Oct. 30 at the St. Peter Great House Estate on St. Thomas, the Brothers Minchio from Dolo, Italy, will team up with the Culinary Team, headed by Chef Robert Plouffe. They will prepare a formal, six-course dinner that begins with a focaccia tasting and ends with warm flourless chocolate cake. In between, there will be dry-martini-marinated salmon, vegetable-stuffed red corn tortillas, chicken ballontine, and a goat-cheese terrine. The dinner will be hosted by the Rotary Club of St. Thomas Sunrise, and serenaded by TNT Band.
"Guests will wine and dine at this event with no speeches," Vinnie Mohanani, who is chairing the event for Rotary Club of St. Thomas Sunrise, said. "It's a social event to raise money for a great cause." The great cause includes charities such as the Adopt-a-School program, and Second Harvest. "We are a brand new Rotary club, a year old, so this fund-raiser will be a big shot in the arm," he said.
Tickets are $125; corporate tables of ten are $1,000. For tickets call 777-4335 or mohananiv@viaccess.net. Cocktails are at 7 p.m., dinner at 8 p.m. Black tie is optional.
The Brothers Minchio come from their family-owned Villa Goetzen near Venice, Italy. Christian Minchio is a maitre d’ and wine expert, while his brother Massimiliano Minchio is in charge of performing gastronomical feats in the kitchen, with the help of his assistant. The wine expert is outgoing, the chef is shy, but, together, they are said to be an inseparable couple of masters who put their heart and soul into their work.
They contacted Robert Plouffe about eight months ago to find out more about collaborating with the his Culinary Team, and the planning for the World Fusion Culinary Festival began. While in the Virgin Islands from Oct. 28 through Nov.6, the Brothers Minchio and the Culinary Team will also be preparing dinners at hotels and restaurants on St. Thomas, St. John and St. Croix. According to Plouffe, the menus will feature dishes from different regions, but using the same ingredients (see true/false question above). For example, a dinner at Noche, a Mexican restaurant, might include the Mexican staple beans and rice, Caribbean favorite peas and rice, and the Italian dish risotto.
"We go to work with the same ingredients but will make fusion cuisines with that," Plouffe said. "This is a huge opportunity for chefs in the Virgin Islands to meet chefs from another country and to exchange something different."
To add further excitement to the weeklong cooking trip, the Brothers Minchio will be followed by an Italian television production crew, who will film the entire experience, and then whittle it down to a 48-minute show to be aired on SKY TV Italy during the spring of 2005.
If you want to taste what the Brothers Minchio will be cooking up with the Culinary Team, here's a look at their schedule for the week. Reservations are recommended, and schedule is subject to change.
On St. Thomas:
Thursday, Oct. 28, Alexander Bella Blue, Italian wine and cheese with an art show, 6 to 9 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 29, Alexander Bella Blue, serving Mediterranean Cuisine, 11:30 a.m.
Friday, Oct 29, Noche, serving Caribbean, Latino and Italian Fusion Cuisine, 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, Oct 30, Food Show at Merchant Market. Friendly Chef Competition, 12:30 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 30, Charity Dinner at St. Peter Great House.
Sunday, Oct. 31, Sapphire Beach Resort. Caribbean BBQ with Brass Band, 3 p.m.
On St. John:
Sunday, Oct. 31, Stone Terrace Resort, Caribbean Flair Dinner, 7 p.m.
Monday, Nov. 1, Rhumb Lines, Asian Fusion Cuisine, 12:30 p.m.
Monday, Nov. 1, Tage, Innovative World Flair Cuisine, 7:30 p.m.
Tuesday, Nov. 2, BBQ at Caneel Bay Resort, 3 p.m.
Tuesday, Nov. 2, Rhumb Lines, 7 p.m.
On St. Croix:
Wednesday, Nov. 3, Kendrick’s, 7 p.m.
Thursday, Nov 4, Truffle, 12 p.m.
Thursday, Nov. 4, Sand Castle, 7 p.m.
Thursday, Nov. 4, Galleon, 7 p.m.
Friday, Tutto Bene, 7 p.m.
Saturday, Nov. 6, Hibiscus Beach Hotel, H2O, World Contemporary Cuisine, 7 p.m.

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