Celebrity Chef, Winery Blend Best Of Both Worlds

Much like the chicken and the egg conundrum, those with a palate for fine wine and good food often debate whether it is the wine that makes food taste better or the other way around. Either way, one cooking expert is showing that the two actually bring out the best in each other.

In a new venture with Viansa Winery & Italian Marketplace, celebrity chef Curtis Aikens hopes to enlighten both diners and would-be culinary artisans to the wonders of cooking and eating with wine. A pioneer in "California Italian Nouveau" cuisine, Aikens will be creating signature dishes and food products for the winery. His recipes will appear in Viansa's monthly publication, Tuscan Club Magazine.

Viansa is a destination winery at the entrance to the Sonoma Valley Wine Country. In addition to offering an array of award-winning California varietals, Viansa is the premier producer of Italian varietals in the United States. The winery is marketed by the publicly traded 360 Global Wine Company (www.360wines.com).

This year, Viansa Winery was rated by the Sonoma radio station KVON 1440 as "The Best Wine Country Experience" in Sonoma.

Aikens' achievements include a number of published books, appearances on "The Oprah Winfrey Show," "Entertainment Tonight" and a regular guest spot on "Good Morning America." He has been a food consultant to the U.S. Open tennis tournament, the New York City Plaza Hotel and the United Nations.

The following recipe is an example of Aikens' culinary creativity. This dish pairs well with Viansa "Pierina" Vernaccia, Arneis or Chardonnay, he says.



(Makes 4 servings)

2 large chicken breasts, sliced

in half lengthwise to make

four strips

1 1/2 tablespoons Cucina

Viansa Roasted Red

Pepper Pesto

1 1/2 tablespoons Cucina

Viansa Sun-Dried

Tomato Pesto

1 1/2 tablespoons Cucina

Viansa Artichoke Pesto

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Flatten chicken pieces with a mallet or the bottom of an empty wine bottle.

Spread 1 teaspoon of each pesto evenly over each piece of chicken. Roll up the chicken strips and close with toothpicks.

Bake chicken rolls in oven for 10 minutes, then lower temperature to 350 degrees and bake 20 minutes longer. Allow to rest for 5 minutes before slicing into rings to serve.

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About The Author, Rodney Wright
For more information or to purchase Viansa wines, visit www.viansa.com. - NU