For more than two decades, the Spinazzola Festival of Food & Wine was held in memory of Anthony Spinazzola, a longtime and long-loved food and wine critic for the Boston Globe. Spinazzola’s son Chris and his wife, Marjorie Clapprood, worked with volunteers to make the event into one of the biggest galas in Boston, and the money it raised was used to fund an apprenticeship program for aspiring chefs, hunger relief and homelessness programs, and the Grow Clinic at Boston Medical Center.
That came to an end in 2007, when Clapprood had to undergo a bone marrow transplant. Their fund-raising ceased and their goal of creating a permanent home for a culinary training facility was put on hold, as the couple focused on her recovery.
But now their dream is coming true. Clapprood is healthy again, and this weekend a state-of-the-art culinary training facility will be named in honor of Anthony Spinazzola. Located at the New England Center for Arts and Technology at 23 Bradston St. in Boston, it will be called the Spinazzola Culinary Center.
“This is exactly what we wanted to do,” said Clapprood.
On May 1, NECAT will host a ribbon-cutting ceremony and reception at the Spinazzola Culinary Center from 2 to 5 p.m., and the event will feature culinary presentations by NECAT students and food by VIP chefs. Participants will include Steve DiFillippo and Rodney Murillo of Davio’s and Scott Jones, chef de cuisine at Menton; David Blessing (Longwood Events, The State Room Boston), Eddie Payne (Tuscan Kitchen), Steve Peljovich (Michael’s Deli), Mark Sapienza (The Langham Hotel), and Josh and Jen Ziskin (La Morra and Heritage of Sherborn); and Derek Barragan of the W Hotel. Lydia Shire will be there to speak and help with the ribbon-cutting.
On April 30, Clapprood and Spinazzola will host a dinner to benefit the Spinazzola Culinary Center at NECAT. The black-tie event (which is sold out) will feature an 8-course dinner with wine pairings, and an all-star cast of chefs including Jody Adams (Rialto and Trade), Tim and Nancy Cushman (o ya), Louis DiBiccari (Tavern Road), DiFillippo (Davio’s), Tiffani Faison (Sweet Cheeks Q and Tiger Mama), Michael Ginor (Lola and Hudson Valley Foie Gras), Andy Husbands (The Smoke Shop and Tremont 647), Jamie Mammano (Columbus Hospitality Group and Ostra), Carla and Christine Pallotta (Nebo Restaurant), Brian Poe (The Tip Tap Room), Michael Schlow (Doretta Taverna & Raw Bar), Maura Kilpatrick and Ana Sortun (Oleana), Ming Tsai (Blue Dragon and Blue Ginger), and Jonathan Kilroy and Tristan Crepin from Bar Boulud Boston.
Maarten Hemsley, the founder, chairman and president of NECAT, said the Spinazzola Culinary Center will fill a need in the community.
“It’s very exciting, and the beginning of a very important partnership,” said Hemsley.
Chris Spinazzola says his father “had enormous respect for the hospitality industry, and restaurants in particular. He felt they worked as hard as anyone he knew. I think he treated restauranteurs with such respect, and for readers, he was a great writer. He spoke to people. He didn’t talk over them. He was a pretty straight talker.”
He said his father respected restaurant owners and chefs, and treated them fairly.
“He had such impact on many of their careers and lives and livelihoods,” he said.
Clapprood said the elder Spinazzola celebrated chefs who were often overlooked.
“He brought the chefs out the kitchen and introduced them to the public.,” she said. “I think he engaged a whole generation of readers to think about eating and drinking differently.”