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Thursday, April 22, 2010

My New York City life: intensa ma meravigliosa!

Dear friends,

Today blog is dedicated to some wonderful events I had the pleasure to attend this past week. An exclusive dinner at Falai in NYC with Accademia Italiana della Cucina in NYC , a dinner show with Vinnie Pastore in NJ, the Annual BB’s Dinner in Little Italy, the 40th year Celebrations of the Radio show “Italian House Party” with John LaBarca in CT and the luncheon Award “Il Leone Di San Marco”in New Rochelle. All of them celebrations of the beauty of the Italian Culture and of the achievements of some great Italians and Italian Americans people. For sure a very busy weekend: got tired, but it was worth it.

As I wrote in a previous blog I’m proud to say that I’m a member of the Accademia Italiana della Cucina, an Italian Cultural Institution. Actually the Accademia is one of the largest and most important Italian cultural organizations, working intensively for the valorization, research and broadening of knowledge about the Italian gastronomical culture. The Accademia is organized in territorial Delegations - up to today 205 in Italy and 67 abroad, counting approximately 7.000 associates altogether. Every month the members of each Delegation around the world gather together for a dinner, called Symposium. The Symposium, basically a dinner, represents an occasion for the investigation and supervision of the condition of public catering and Italian Restaurants. By means of a detailed evaluation form, the participants to the Symposium will express their judgment regarding the chef's capacity of interpreting the menu, the quality of the products used and the combinations with the wine, the hospitality and reception of the restaurant and regarding the ratio between price and quality.

A report of the “Symposium” will be published on the Accademia monthly Magazine “Civita’ della Tavola”, where each Accademico around the world can read about the Accademia's activity. Each Accademico get this publication every month. Last month this monthly dinner was at Falai in NYC. Jacopo Falai is Florence native chef. He started his career as head pastry chef at the three Michelin starred Enoteca Pinchiorri in Florence. Next Falai traveled to France, collaborating with renowned Chef Michel Bras as a bread baker at his three-Michelin-starred restaurant in France, and with Chocolatier Michel Belin, developing chocolate-making techniques for Fauchon. Jacopo Falai moved to the New York in 2001. Since then he has been at Le Cirque 2000, where he held the Executive Pastry Chef position, then at sister restaurant, Osteria del Circo, before crossing over as Executive Chef of Bread Tribeca, which was awarded two stars by The New York Times.
Nowadays Jacopo, here on the photo with me, owns a cafĂ©, a bakery and a Restaurant. Last Tuesday the Restaurant Falai was closed to the public and Jacopo cooked a delicious dinner for us Accademici, according to his philosophy of Italian modern kitchen: he very much believes in lightness, in using a light hand when adding flavors or balancing flavors. The rates for his food were very high. The all dinner was very light and still very tasteful. His Frittelle alla Crema & Crepe Cake, the desserts, were out of this world!!  Jacopo Falai is a very talented and passionate chef!! And as usual the company was great: I’m so lucky to be a member of the Accademia! What a fun night of delicious food.

The whole week was kind of busy and joyful.  Friday night I was invited by AndrĂ© Salzano, owner of a beautiful catering hall in NJ  called the Hamilton Manor, to go to a dinner Party where Vinny Pastore of the Sopranos was performing. I was there with JJ and my dear friends and fans Lynn and Angelo Avino, here on the picture, and her beautiful parents, Bob and Gayle. A great night of fun with great friends. The place is very beautiful and elegant and we are right now talking about having me perform my show at this location soon.

Then my Saturday went on bringing me to another event in Little Italy where I was guest at a wonderful dinner of the Buanne Babes, the fan club of my dear friend and colleague Patrizio Buanne. I was supposed to stay only for an hour, since the day after I had to wake up at 5 AM. But the party was so great, full of love, happiness and positive energy that I ended up staying till the end!! I was so happy to see all the ladies, some of whom are also very dear friends and fans of mine as well, who came from Pittsburgh, Chicago, Boston and Florida!! And I got so many presents, including this Official Buanne Babe t-shirt!! What a fun night!!

And then there was my busy Sunday!! I went to bed at 1AM but I was in Stamford, CT at 9AM guest of the Italian House Party with the wonderful DJ and dear friend John LaBarca that was celebrating his 40th Anniversary with this show!! Perfect in time!! The radio show was live at the beautiful Italian Center in Stamford. All around there were vendors with Italian products, and stands with food, drinks and coffee. There was so much joy and support for John!! I got to perform 3 songs, always scary so early in the morning and with only 5 hours of sleep. But all went well. Here a picture of a tender moment with John! 

And it was so nice to get to meet so many wonderful people who were there for John, friends, fans and family. And some of them were also FB’s friends of mine that are now real life friends!! Like Sonny Maxon, here on the picture with me and my CD "And I Love You So", who took the pictures that you see here of this event.
I would have loved to stay there longer and wait for my dear friend and colleagues, great tenor Chris Macchio, with whom I will be doing a Concert presented by John LaBarca on May 21st at the Norwalk Concert Hall.
But I had to go another event in New Rochelle where I was expected to be at 11AM.

The event, the 31st Annual Champagne Luncheon “Il Leone Di San Marco” was held also this year at the beautiful Davenport Club in New Rochelle. 
I’ve been part of this event for the past 4 years, thanks to my dear friend, movie producer Sonny Grosso, who’s Vice President of the Italian Heritage and Culture Committee of the Bronx and Westchester who every year award outstanding Italians and Italian- Americans during this event. Among the honorees this year were basketball player with the New York Knicks of the NBA, Danilo Gallinari, my friend and legendary Music Producer, winner of 14 Grammy Award, Phil Ramone, legendary rock singer Lou Christy, Commander Officer of Detective Borough of Queens, Deputy Chief Louis M. Croce, famous oncologist Dr. Franco Muggia, M.D. and Louis Salvati.

This year was extra special since they were honoring Phil Ramone, that besides being a dear friend, he’s the most legendary and iconic Music Producer in the world. If you are not familiar with him you will have to check this link

Sonny Grosso introduced Phil to me a few years ago when I was cast for a role in the musical that Phil and Sonny are working on, the “Be My Love”, about the life story of Mario Lanza. Meeting Phil was like a dream coming true for me. Phil has worked with Barbra Streisand, Frank Sinatra, Sting, Tony Bennett, Luciano Pavarotti, Madonna, Liza Minelli, Paul Simon, Ray Charles, Bono, Burt Bacharach, Aretha Franklyn, Rod Steward, Stevie Wonder and the list goes on and on. He has produced so many great records that are part of the greatest songs of the last century. I will never forget the first time I had to sing for him. I felt so nervous and insecure. I had to sing “Caruso” a song that Phil had just recorded with Luciano Pavarotti, at his “Pavarotti & Friends”.  I will never forget the grace and the humbleness that Phil had when he came to me after my performance telling me that I had moved him with my voice. Can you believe it?? Phil Ramone saying that??

Since that day Phil has become a friend and even if he has the gift of making you feel very comfortable in his presence, since he’s the most sweet and down to heart man in the world, knowing who he is and what he has done, makes me feel nervous always!! But I sang for him a song and it was a moment I won’t forget!!

I was so touched by him also last Sunday, when he was receiving his Award. While Sonny Grosso was introducing him and acknowledging his unbelievable achievements, I was so touched to see Phil nervous, touched and emotional!! What a great great man!! I feel so blessed to be able to call him my friend and to get to spend time with him. We are now working on another project together and I can’t wait to start to work with him again!! It will be like a dream coming true!

I was also thrilled to get to meet Lou Christie, another Icon of the American music. After I sang I had the chance to talk to Lou, a very sweet and gentle human being as well. I gave him a copy of my latest CD” And I Love You So” and he was so thrilled to see that “Cinema Paradiso” was on it. Cinema Paradiso is one of his favorite movies and songs!! It was so nice to hear his speech and see how important for him is his Italian heritage. Unfortunately he didn’t sing…but the ladies in the audience, great fans of Lou, serenade him with his “Lighting’ Strikes”. It was such a great moment!!

Here is also a picture I took with my fellow Italian  Danilo Gallinari basketball player with the New York Knicks of the NBA. My friends were joking me saying if I was sitting on a chair while taking this picture: of well he is 6ft 10!! I was wearing hills, but only standing on a chair can make me tall like him!! A wonderful young man!!

The Ceremony of the Leone di San Marco is one of my favorite Annual Events. There are always so many wonderful people, a lot of which are now also dear friends. And this year I was so happy to have with me some new wonderful friends That I met thanks to my music, the wonderful Susan and Dr. Robert Korwin and Lissa Pericolosi. It was great to be able to share this great day with them.

Also my musical director Etienne Stadwijk was there, since he’s too a big admirer of Phil Ramone. 

Among the many great people there were also two wonderful parents, Phil and Andrea Marella. Two of their 4 beautiful kids, Dana (16) and Andrew (10) are suffering of Niemann-Pick Type C disease (NPC), which is a genetic metabolic disorder in which harmful quantities of cholesterol and other fatty substances accumulate in the cells of the body such as the spleen, liver, lungs, bone marrow and, most dramatically, the brain. Since time is short, as there is no proven treatment or cure for this cruel childhood disease, they organize every year a benefit. This year’s  Concert of the Dana's Angels Research Trust will presents
 "The King of Motown"

Smokey Robinson,
Live at the Palace Theatre
61 Atlantic St., Stamford, CT

Friday, May 14, 2010. I will be there to support this cause and if you would like to help check this link for more info.

Valerie Smaldone, here with Phil and me, is another talented and wonderful friends of mine and past year honoree. With her usual grace and elegance, was there this year to introduce the Honoree Dr. Franco Muggia, an impressive great oncologist that has saved so many lives. It was so inspiring to hear how the passion for his work and his dedication has really contributed in saving so many lives.

To be part of these events always makes me feel so blessed with my life. To get to meet such impressive and outstanding people makes me every time realize that I’m very lucky. From this people I have learned that in life we have to work hard to be the best we can possibly be, according to our ability and talents!! And most of all follow our passions and live with passion always and everything.

Well the time passed rapidity. It was 4PM when the Ceremony was over, but it felt to me like a second.
What a wonderful wonderful weekend!!

Stay tuned for my next week blog about a wonderful place of the Italian Riviera: Cinque Terre.

Love always,
Un caro saluto a tutti,



  1. Giada,
    You are such a busy lady! I was sorry to miss the Buanne Babes weekend but my husband and I had a cruise planned for that week. Hopefully this weekend will be a little more calm and you can get some rest.

  2. Ciao Margie,
    So nice to hear from you!!
    A cruise...that sound so nice!! I wish I could go to one!!! Where did you go???
    The BB Dinner was so much fun!! Those ladies are crazy and adorable!! Hopefully we will get to see each other soon somewhere else!! That would be so nice!!
    Well I'm busy and almost never quietly at home...but I'm so lucky to have so many wonderful friends and places to go....and when I'm tired you can see me sleep in the car on my way to those places behind my big black sunglasses!!! That's so me!!
    Un abbraccio e a presto,

  3. Sounds like a great week! I can't wait until the next time I can get to NYC. I'm planning a holiday party cruise NYC now so I can get out there and have some fun!