In the kitchen with Forte's Stephen Asprinio

By Rachel Leigh email

Wellington native Stephen Asprinio first began cooking like many of us - on a stool and at a young age. But it's what he did over the next 20 years that's made him anything but ordinary.

"Age 27, I already have my own restaurant, been on national television quite a number of times from Bravos Top Chef to NBC's the Today Show."

Steven Asprinio, owner and chef, adds, "Leaving when I was 17 [Wellington] and going to New York City, Los Vegas, Los Angeles, and just kind of got a taste of this fast-paced lifestyle. And I kind of wanted to bring of touch of that from my previous experiences back here to West Palm Beach with my restaurant."

And he's gracious enough to cook for me - the girl who considers not overcooking a frozen pizza an accomplishment!

"We're going to make a lobster risotto. It's a fun, different take on risotto which is usually made with japonica rice. What we use is orzo pasta, kind of lightens it up a little, little bit different texture, and a little bit of a different twist."

He learned very quickly this dish stays on the menu. "We tried taking it off one time, and people were like flipping out. I almost got lynched. It's a great dish. It's lobster, orzo, little bit of mascarpone, black truffle."

On a side note, black truffle is an aphrodisiac, and he has the wine to go with it. "I'm a very big wine enthusiast. It plays a very integral part of the dining experience especially with food."

While the risotto is browning in the pan, Stephen shares some of his tips for success. "It's about hospitality, about the guest. It's not about an ego. It's not about what we want. It's about what people who you serve want. If you keep that in mind, and provide them with some sort of innovative experience - whether it's with food, whether it's with service, whether it's in the whole experience - it's really going to drive it home."

The risotto is now ready, and it's time to add the black truffle I was talking about. But, once again, with a twist. "It's literally a foam. It add another texture to it."

Now that my mouth is absolutely watering, it's time for a taste!

I was expecting it to be good, but it was more than good - it was out of this world! One bite was all it took to fall in love.

"This is one of our signature dishes at the restaurant. This is the Maine Lobster Orzo Risotto made with a little bit of mascarpone and black truffle espuma."

Forte's located on Clematis Street in downtown West Palm Beach.