Monday, July 18, 7:00 pm
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“More than any other Italian region, Sardinia is a land of mystery: ancient, rugged, impenetrable, floating undaunted in a soundless sea, the same as it was when the first Phoenician ships docked on its shores thousands of years ago,” wrote Micol Negrin in Rustico, her authoritative book on regional Italian country cooking. Despite its geography, Sardinia’s cuisine draws heavily on the land; hearty breads and pastas, sheep’s milk cheeses, and lamb dishes form the basis of most meals on the island. A few thousand miles away, in the land-locked city of Dallas, Sardinia’s humble roots have given rise to a young culinary star, Stefano Secchi.
In addition to being a full-time student at Southern Methodist University, 22-year-old Secchi is one of Dallas’s hottest new chefs. He grew up in his family’s Sardinian-influenced restaurant, Ferrari’s Italian Villa, and began working there when he was 16. After graduating from the CIA and interning at Lidia Bastianich’s Felidia, Secchi returned to the family business as executive chef and has since been making a name for himself by “lending his modern and innovative culinary talents to his father’s traditional, Old World kitchen,” according to D Magazine.
Secchi has attracted a lot of attention. D Magazine named him one of Dallas’s most eligible bachelors, and the Dallas Morning News featured him as one of “the sexy Dallas chefs heating things up in a kitchen near you.” But, despite his budding celebrity status, it’s Secchi’s cooking that draws diners in. The chef described his culinary style to the DallasMorning News as “four-star, old-school Italian with new, fantastic fresh touches.” These touches—like salt-crusted sea bass baked in the restaurant’s wood-burning oven—have received rave reviews. “Stefano’s latest menu additions,” wrote D Magazine, “are something you don’t want to miss.”
Between Secchi’s chef duties at Ferrari’s and his studies at SMU, it’s hard to believe he has time for much else. But he takes breaks from his economics courses to co-host a campus radio show and teach cooking classes at the restaurant on Saturdays. He hopes one day to parlay his love for teaching and food into a career not only behind the stove, but in front of the camera with his own show on the Food Network. Will he do it? We have no doubts.