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Six Sensational Courses with Famed Chef Massimo Bottura


Elyssa Goodman | January 12, 2018
High-end experience agency GR8 put together a one-of-a-kind evening of decadent dining, luxe libations, and celebrity storytelling.

It’s not every day that New Yorkers visit Ellis Island, let alone attend an exclusive dinner there. But luxury experience agency GR8 made it happen earlier this month with an event celebrating Italian haute cuisine, featuring renowned chef Massimo Bottura and celebrated winemaker Roberto Cipresso, hosted by actor and screenwriter Chazz Palminteri. The evening’s charity partner was God’s Love We Deliver, a New York–based organization that provides more than 7,000 meals a day to individuals who are homebound, ill, or otherwise unable to cook for themselves.

The event began in Manhattan, where 100 guests in black tie boarded a private ferry. At Ellis Island’s Museum of Immigration, attendees were given a tour of the historic venue, followed by a prosecco reception. After sipping their bubbly, guests began their six-course dinner.

Bottura, the chef behind Osteria Francescana, a three-Michelin-star restaurant in Modena, Italy, certainly put on a show. One of the meal’s highlights was a psychedelic “veal” (actually Wagyu beef) prepared as if it were a live painting, during which the entire room fell silent in awe. Bottura also served his signature dessert, the “Oops I Dropped the Lemon Tart” — a lemongrass ice cream and zabaglione dish served upside-down and smashed.


“Massimo has a presence and an ability to really go beyond just food when he talks to the crowd, when he describes the dishes, when he talks about how he came up with certain things, that very few chefs in the world have,” says GR8 Managing Director Barnabas Carrega. “He has a very artistic persona and a very philosophical way of looking at cooking. He emanates this energy that you’re naturally drawn to.”

The lavish and unique dishes were paired with plenty of libations. Roberto Cipresso has been making wine for 30 years, including creating a special blend for the 150th anniversary of Italian Unification, and has won myriad awards and honors from the likes of Merano Wine Festival, Wine Spectator, Wine & Spirits, The Wine Advocate, and more. A renowned expert, he spent the evening going from table to table discussing the wines he’d selected, describing their histories, and talking about the reasons behind his pairings.

Palminteri, not just a renowned actor but also a screenwriter and producer, regaled guests with tales about how his famed film A Bronx Tale came to be. The movie, about Italian Americans living in the Bronx in the 1960s, costarred Robert De Niro, and it was also his directorial debut. Earlier this year, A Bronx Tale was made into a Broadway musical, for which De Niro was director and Palminteri wrote the accompanying book. During dinner, the actor stopped at guests’ tables between courses to talk about his experiences in film and theatre. “We were looking for an Italian-American actor or comedian who could come on board for the project,” says Carrega. “And once we met with [Palminteri] and realized the kind of person he is, how charming and funny, we thought he was just the perfect match.”


Although GR8 has crafted luxury experiences around the world, from Bordeaux to Beijing, this event was the first of its kind they’ve done. It was a great success, and the company intends to do something similar annually in order to show guests what a true GR8 evening looks like — a one-of-a-kind experience that goes far beyond a typical night out. “We wanted to do something out of the box,” Carrega says. They certainly did.

For another unique experience, head to Fernet-Branca

All images courtesy of GR8

Elyssa Goodman is a writer and photographer based in New York. Her work has appeared in Vogue, Vanity Fair, Vice, and many others. Find her at


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