Pastry Chef, Le Virtu Restaurant
Pastry Chef, Angela Ranalli has been making Italian sweets since a very young age. As a child Angela helped her mother prepare traditional Italian cookies, cannoli, and breads, rolling each out and decorating each one by hand. Accompanied by her even younger siblings, she traveled weekly with her mother to the coast to sell their wares at local markets and festivals. The weekend sales eventually evolved into her mother, Linda, opening her own Italian restaurant and catering business in New Jersey, where the entire family worked side by side in the kitchen.
Raised in a household where three generations of Italians lived together under one roof, the old ways of Italy survived and were passed down to the youngest generation. Her family has a strong mystical background, given they came from the region of Abruzzo, where legends and superstitions abound, even to this day. These ancient beliefs have strong ties to food and farming, therefore the most auspicious time to seed or harvest plants, get married, have a baby, etc. were calculated according to phase of the moon and stars. This carried over naturally into cooking. Pane di Pasqua, (Easter Bread) was only made on Easter Sunday. It is said that it will not rise or bake the right way on another day out of the year. Polenta is always made at the first snowfall to welcome the spirit of winter, and so forth.
As an adult, Angela attended culinary school in Philadelphia, PA, and worked under French Pastry Chef Michel Gras, in Cape May, NJ specializing in wedding cakes. Later, returning to Philadelphia, she took over the pastry program for Water Works Restaurant. She also continued to further her studies in the ancient art of astrology and Italian folklore. She has traveled abroad extensively, and has lived in Italy off and on over the past 13 years. Now bridging the past, present, and future through her desserts as pastry chef at Abruzzese restaurant “Le Virtu” in Philadelphia, the sultry chef puts a modern spin on rustic dishes oftentimes incorporating ingredients known to be aphrodisiacs, but which are also indigenous to the region of Abruzzo. Check out this CHOCOLATE RAVIOLI she created and showed off on NBC’s In the Kitchen:
We cannot express how excited we are to have Pastry Chef Angela Ranalli on the judges’ panel! With a strong mystical background, we hope to hear her predictions on how the 4th Annual Philly Chili Bowl will go!