Chef Luigi Diotaiuti of Al Tiramisu Achieves American Dream: Cooking at James Beard Foundation on His Birthday; Cooks with Celebrity Chefs, Judges Competition, Mentors Ages 8-80

Jan 23, 2013, 10:00 ET from Al Tiramisu

WASHINGTON, Jan. 23, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Luigi Diotaiuti, an Italian immigrant and dual citizen of his beloved USA and Italy, achieved his first American Dream when he opened his own restaurant, Al Tiramisu, 16 years ago on his birthday. The chef/owner of the most authentic Italian restaurant in the nation's capital will achieve another American Dream on his March 14 birthday this year: cooking a five-course tasting menu with wine pairings at the prestigious James Beard Foundation's (JBF) Beard House in New York City. It's a Mecca for foodies.

"Just like an opera singer who wants to perform at the world renowned opera house La Scala, I dreamed of cooking at the James Beard House. I'll be cooking a Basilicata dinner from my region of Italy. That's who I am. I'm Luigi from Lagonegro in the mountains of Southern Italy," says Chef Luigi.  Reservations are open to nonmembers in early February through the JBF website events or by phone 212-627-2308.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recently inducted by letter Chef Luigi into the American Chef Corps, an elite corps of some 80 "culinary ambassadors" from around the country. They will work with the State Department to prepare meals for visiting dignitaries, travel to U.S. embassies abroad for educational programs with foreign audiences, or host culinary experts from around the world in their U.S. kitchens.

Meanwhile, Washingtonians can sample Chef Luigi's cooking this month at "Sips and Suppers" for charity benefiting DC Central Kitchen and Martha's Table. Celebrity chefs Jose Andres, Alice Walters, and other nationally and internationally renowned chefs from DC, New York, San Francisco, Martha's Vineyard, Mass., Baltimore, Charlottesville, Philadelphia, New Orleans, Iceland, Gordes, France, and Chianti, Italy, will cook dinner Jan. 27 in 29 homes throughout the city, with each home hosting 16-20 people. Chef Luigi is teamed up with Executive Chef Sebastian Archambault of Blue Duck Tavern.

Shortly afterwards, Chef Luigi travels to Philadelphia to be a mentor and judge of top culinary students at the 11th S.PELLEGRINO® ALMOST FAMOUS CHEF® COMPETITION Jan. 30. Chef Luigi will mentor culinary students on everything from preparation techniques to personal impact – including presence and taste – to final presentation.

Culinary students representing 75 schools vie in regional competitions to reach the finals in Napa Valley this March aiming for an apprenticeship with a participating chef and more than $20,000 in winnings.  New this year: Consumers can submit their own "Signature Dish" online to S. Pellegrino Almost Famous Chef Competition Facebook sweepstakes for a chance to win a trip to the 2014 finals and have a professional chef recreate their winning dish at a dinner party for 10.

Chef Luigi is now mentoring students from ages 8 to 80.  He "adopted" the nearby Hyde-Addison Elementary School which has a wonderful school vegetable garden—as First Lady Michelle Obama encourages so students can relate to growing and eating healthy food. Cooking Club students (grades 3-5) will once again this spring take over the kitchen at Al Tiramisu with Chef Luigi as the restaurant closes for lunch, and then on another day cook in the school cafeteria kitchen.

Donned in big Al Tiramisu aprons, elementary school students last year made gnocchi, "happy salads," and toasted each other with real lemonade at a long restaurant table covered with white tablecloth, Current newspapers reported with photos.  And in the school cafeteria kitchen, with Chef Luigi they made bruschetta and enough profiteroles for the whole school.

In Italy this month, for the televised "PastaLab 2013," Chef Luigi paired local homemakers and grandmothers from Basilicata with top chefs to preserve artisan pastas. It was covered on TGR TV (TeleGiornale Regionale) Italian state-owned TV.

In between his two major American Dreams, the restaurateur has weathered the ups and downs of the restaurant business from tough economies to two years of disruptive street construction in front of his restaurant and has come out stronger and grown considerably in the process. Chef Luigi has remained true to the dream of his brand.  Whether customers are prominent celebrities, high level executives in the Obama administration, embassy staff, tourists, or a young couple in love on Valentine's Day, Chef Luigi's overriding goal is to create a joyful atmosphere where customers can enjoy good authentic Italian food and leave happier than when they came in.

What's his next American Dream? "I'd like the President and First Lady to come to Al Tiramisu for "date night." He adds, "That would be my ultimate American dream."

Al Tiramisu, 2014 P St. NW, Washington, DC 20036.  Reservations: 202-467-4466. Valet parking seven nights a week 6-10 PM.

Further information: Rozanne Weissman, Rozanne Weissman & Associates, 202-904-4490

SOURCE Al Tiramisu