According to economic principles, there's no such thing as a free lunch.
But when I'm munching on prosciutto di Parma and sipping a Roman wine provided by an acclaimed Italian chef at astudent-only demonstration, it's easy to forget the exorbitant amount I'm paying for school. That moment is short-lived, of course, but it still feels like I'm getting something for free. Sometimes there's even a bit of exclusivity surrounding it—like when the demo features a James Beard Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award winner or the chef has at least an eight-
week waiting list to get into his restaurant.
This week I took advantage of the "freebies," attending a demo yesterday and the day prior. On Tuesday, French chef Andre Soltner of The New York Times four-star rated Lutece (which closed in 2004 after more than 40 years) presented a three-course tasting menu. Lucky me to get a private meal from a famed chef and restaurateur. The dishes comprised potage au potiron (pumpkin soup), joues de boeuf braisees au vin rouge (beef cheeks braised in red wine) and bavarois aux poire (Bavarian cream with pears).
Yesterday, I enjoyed a sampling of imported Italian meats, cheeses and wine. All were handpicked by chef Cesare Casella, owner of Salumeria Rosi in Manhattan and dean of my sister school's Italian Studies program. Nothing puts me at ease more than dry-cured ham and a glass of vino.
I'm ready to attend the long list of demos scheduled the next month-and-a-half I'm in school. Free or not, I rarely turn down an opportunity to eat.