UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — For chef Alessandro Manfredini, it was a job in a pizza shop about 35 years ago that inspired his life’s work, and the Italian chef will soon share a sampling of his authentic cuisine with central Pennsylvania.
“I started working as a pizza chef in a small hotel in Barga,” said Manfredini, now 53. “The owner and chef passed on all his passion. I moved to Naples for a special culinary school and knew I wanted it to be my profession.”
Manfredini will share elements of his cooking style that’s been crafted for more than three decades at the WPSU Connoisseur’s Dinner and Auction — a fundraiser that benefits the operations and programming of WPSU-TV — at the Nittany Lion Inn on Saturday, Feb. 8.
As head chef at the Renaissance Tuscany Il Ciocco Resort and Spa in the Barga region of Tuscany, Italy, Manfredini said he likes to use locally sourced ingredients, including Porcini mushrooms, forest chestnuts, cheeses and honeys. The chef grew up in the region where the hotel is located.
“I like to use fresh, colorful ingredients,” he said. “Fresh food, homemade pasta, bread. We use fresh fish from the near coast, mussels, clams. All food is from scratch.”
After culinary school, Manfredini worked throughout Italy as a cook and sous-chef before opening up his own restaurant back in Barga. He also served as a private chef and has worked at the Renaissance Tuscany resort for the past 13 years. His work has taken him around the globe, including the United States, England and Saudi Arabia.
In State College, Manfredini will present an authentic taste of Tuscany to WPSU supporters. He said he travels abroad a couple of times per year and looks forward to new people experiencing his food.
“I like travel and love going around,” Manfredini said. “When you meet new people you find new energy. You get new input. I believe good food puts everything right.”