Pasta sauce cook-off Sunday |

Pasta sauce cook-off Sunday

Photo for The Union by Jennifer Terman.

What. Pasta sauce cook off Sunday

When: 12 to 5 p.m. Sunday

Where: The Holiday Inn Express at 121 Bank St. in downtown Grass Valley

Cost: $7 for tasting kit and four tasting tickets. $1 for each additional tasting ticket.

Pasta lovers can prep their taste buds and appetites for the Little Italy Pasta Sauce Cook-off Sunday.

The event will celebrate Grass Valley’s Italian heritage and provide a chance for families to show off their traditional recipes.

“This is a sort of kick-off for Grass Valley’s Little Italy,” said Carl Brenner, who owns Bear River Pasta with his wife, Theresa McGuire.

Teams will start cooking at 9 a.m., and the tasting runs from noon to 5 p.m. at the Holiday Inn Express at 121 Bank St. in downtown Grass Valley.

Visitors can purchase a tasting bowl with pasta made fresh from Bear River Pasta, a fork and four tasting tickets. Additional tickets are $1 each.

There will be 14 competitors, five judges and an expected 200 guests.

The event will also include strolling musicians and Italian ballads from one of the local middle schools and a cash bar to provide wine.

Bear River Pasta will offer marinated olives, olive rolls and gelato and will prepare 100 pounds of fusilli pasta for the event, which has grooves perfect for picking up sauce, Brenner said.

The idea for the cook-off originated from a conversation with Brenner and McGuire and event coordinator Karen DiPillo, who wanted to promote the Italian cultural society and foundation, which hosts September’s Italian festival.

“There is just a great variety of people with recipes, so we started talking about sauce, and that was the emphasis we wanted with this cook-off,” DiPillo said.

The vision of the cultural society is to educate the community about the different local contributions Italians have made, she said.

“I just found out that there were Italian craftsmen in the Stonehouse and they were instrumental in building some of the buildings. … There are a lot of Italian families on Bank Street,” she said.

Some of the these families include the owners of Bear River Pasta, as McGuire is Italian; Trattoria Milano owners Mario Fantoni and Gianfranco Maffezzoni; the law office of Augustine Tassone and Michael Gallego’s dentistry.

The alcove inside the Holiday Inn Express also serves as the cultural society hub, and Italian movies are played there periodically.

“So there are a lot of different things we like to bring to the county to raise awareness,” said DiPillo.

“We’re excited about (the cook-off). I think it’ll be a fun day with the smell of garlic and tomato in the air all around.”

To contact Staff Writer Jennifer Terman, email or call 530-477-4230.

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