It’s always a good time when Dirk Flanigan (from The Gage and Henri) and Tony Priolo (from Chicago Gourmet) get together to cook. Longtime friends and once-upon-a-time roommates, they crank out as much personality as good food, and their playful banter always draws a crowd.
“I had to step up my game ’cause I’m cooking with Dirk,” Priolo teased while skillfully preparing a fall pasta dish in front of a standing room only crowd Sunday at Chicago Gourmet.
Flanigan chuckled, and launched into a detailed description of the complicated fish dish he was preparing, something so detailed and unusual that this amateur would never try it at home. Priolo worked steadily alongside, interjecting a comment here and there.
“Okay, so who puts olive oil in the water when making pasta?” He asked.
Many people raised their hands.
“Don’t do that!”
“They say it’s so the pasta won’t stick together, but you want the sauce to stick to the pasta don’t you?” Flanigan chimed in.
“It’s okay,” Priolo consoled the audience. “You’re not a professional chef.”
As the jokes and good natured restaurant promos volleyed back and fourth between the two, Priolo whipped together his dish and seemed to have the food ready to plate in seconds. Don’t be fooled by the timing. His ease and speed in the kitchen is the result of practiced professionalism — the mark of a master at work. I might try to make his dish at home, but there’s no chance it’d be the same without his magic touch.
Flanigan and Priolo have gained a reputation at Chicago Gourmet for their camaraderie — often going over time to tell stories about the good times they’ve shared. One in particular stands out. Apparently, when they were in cooking school, the guy cooking at the station next to them was always invading their cooking space, so they both started using long kitchen tongs to elbow their way into his. Since then, kitchen tongs have showed up everywhere as a recurring joke… at restaurant openings, in cars, under pillows. Guests at the cooking demo even found some under their chairs! There was a little note attached from Flanigan asking that the tongs be sent to Priolo at Piccolo Sogno. 🙂
Ahh. It’s good to see chefs at play.
As media, we attended this event free-of-charge.