Paul Cullen is on a mission to make risotto more approachable.
Too often, home cooks avoid serving the northern Italian dish, said Cullen, who offers in-home parties featuring his Italian cuisine.
They picture standing at the stove, tediously stirring broth into arborio rice until it reaches a creamy consistency.
But that doesn’t have to be the case.
“You don’t have to stir it every waking moment,” said Cullen, who owns Paul’s Kitchen, which sells proprietary products and Italian imports.
See for yourself on Friday, March 31, when Cullen is the featured chef during the Food Bank of Delaware’s Cooking for a Cause.
Fundraising at home
Along with mushroom-and-sausage risotto, the virtual cooking class will feature Tuscan white bean dip and Italian wine from his label, Paul Cullen Wines.
Nearly everything you need will be packaged for pickup on Thursday, March 30, at the Food Bank’s locations in Newark (222 Lake Drive) or Milford (140 Mullet Run, Unit E).
This year, Sussex County residents can pick up the ingredients at Paul’s Kitchen in Lewes (32882 Cedar Grove Road, just west of Route 1).
The class goes live at 6 p.m. on March 31, so with a computer and a kitchen, you can sip Lambrusco and stir the rice in your yoga pants.
Got plans that night? The broadcast will be available through Sunday, April 2.
Third time a charm
This is the third Cooking for a Cause, which was born during the pandemic when charities were canceling conventional fundraisers.
However, the public embraced the homey approach.
“This year, I actually had friends and acquaintances ask me when the event would take place,” said Jeff Whitmarsh, the Food Bank board member who came up with the idea. “It was rewarding to realize that this event was something people looked forward to as an annual activity.”
The 2020 cooking class was live, but now it’s taped in advance so viewers can stop, fast-forward or rewind the class.
And while the team works on risotto, there’s plenty of time to talk — and listen. Cullen, who fell in love with food and wine while on tour with Bad Company, will play guitar during the virtual event.
Kattie Fox will make raspberry-ricotta mousse for dessert, which you can make in advance.
“It’s light, refreshing and super simple to make,” said Fox, an alumna of the Food Bank’s cooking school. She now runs the Food Bank’s café and helps oversee the catering program.
Cause for Cooking
Fox also teaches students to bake, and Whitmarsh and Cullen will discuss the culinary education and training program during the broadcast.
“Having the opportunity to showcase the different aspects of the Food Bank’s culinary program makes it difficult to put a dollar value on” the fundraiser’s impact, Whitmarsh said. “It tips the scale toward a virtual event.”
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Not surprisingly, he noted that Cooking for a Cause is more cost-effective to organize than a labor-intensive in-person event. It’s also a decent deal for the attendees; the cost is $100, and the meal serves two people.
However, the Food Bank’s cornhole tournament in spring and the Farm to Fork event in the fall are traditional fundraisers with in-person attendance.
Meanwhile, Cullen and the Food Bank of Delaware will team up again on Sunday, April 30, when Food Bank students will prepare light bites for Concert for the Kids at the Milton Theater. The live entertainment event benefits Paul Kares, Cullen’s charity that supports young musicians and aspiring culinary stars.
To reserve your space for Cooking for a Cause, go here.
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