Gracie’s Star Chefs Series with Chef Ciril Hitz – Monday, August 6, 2012

by David Dadekian
The wood burning oven on a trailer that Chef Hitz brings to Gracie's for one special dinner each year.

The wood burning oven on a trailer that Chef Hitz brings to Gracie’s for one special dinner each year.

It’s time again for one of my favorite dinners of the entire year, and I have some pretty spectacular dinners—just recently I tasted most of the items on 2012 James Beard Foundation Award semifinalist Chef Benjamin Sukle’s new menu at The Dorrance and had incredible wines with dinner at the Troquet wine cellar clear out sale, still going on through August. Maybe this upcoming Gracie’s Star Chefs dinner is my favorite because Chefs Ciril Hitz and Matthew Varga are friends of mine. Maybe it’s the impeccable service and atmosphere at Gracie’s that reminds me of New York. Or maybe it’s because I vividly remember how the lobster tail from last year’s Gracie’s Star Chefs dinner with Hitz was hands-down the best bite I had in 2011, and that includes putting it against some, again, very spectacular dinners of last year.

Here’s a few more accolades to entice you. The year before there was an astonishing dessert (let’s not forget Gracie’s Pastry Chef Melissa Denmark who studied under Hitz at Johnston & Wales University) and the year before that I recall one of the best lamb preparations I’ve ever had. I haven’t even mentioned the overabundance of delicious bread that Hitz, one of the world’s best master bakers, bakes for this annual dinner. Also, because of my work with Blackbird Farm, I happen to know one of the many dishes Varga and Hitz have planned for Monday and I can’t wait to taste the combination of Hitz’s bread and the Bouthillette’s beef. As if all that wasn’t enticement enough, this year’s dinner will feature pairings from award-winning craft brewery Smuttynose Brewing Company in New Hampshire (or wines if you prefer).

Chef Ciril Hitz adding wood to the wood-burning oven outside Gracie's

Chef Ciril Hitz adding wood to the wood-burning oven outside Gracie’s

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it unabashedly and unprompted again and again, this is not a dinner to miss. Not just if you love food like so many people trumpet nowadays as if food is a new discovery, but if you truly care about where your food is from, how it is thoughtfully prepared and what you put inside your body. Here’s the link to last year’s piece about the dinner, and here’s a story on Hitz’s baking classes that he gives at his facility in Rehoboth. I hope to see you at dinner on Monday.

Below is the text of Gracie’s press release with the Star Chefs dinner details.


Gracie’s Showcases Award-Winning Bread & Brews

Gracie’s to host Star Chef Dinner featuring nationally recognized Chef Ciril Hitz, Master Bread Baker, and Peter Egelston, founder and President of Smuttynose Brewery in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – For Chef Ciril Hitz’s fourth annual return to Gracie’s as part of their Star Chef Series, award-winning craft beers from Smuttynose Brewery will be paired with the tasting menu, as Smuttynose Founder and President Peter Egelston collaborate together with Gracie’s Chef Matthew Varga and his culinary team on a bread and brewery adventure for the first time at Gracie’s. This event will include the ever-present Gracie’s touch, offering unique and memorable culinary experiences with the utmost attention to detail.

“It’s a great opportunity to be working with one of my former instructor’s again, and see the return of Chef Hitz’s wood-fired ovens,” said Melissa Denmark, Pastry Chef of Gracie’s. “With the Summer season upon us, I’m excited to see craft beers being paired with the amazing dishes created by Chef Hitz.” This Star Chef Dinner will mark the fourth time we’ve had an opportunity to integrate his passion for creating dishes inspired by his wood-fired oven with our passion for surprising our guests with inventive, seasonal dishes.”

Details about this event are as follows:

Monday, August 6th, 2012

A true Star Chef of Gracie’s, Ciril Hitz returns to Gracie’s for his fourth appearance to the restaurant. This year, he will be joined by Peter Egelston, Founder and President of Smuttynose Brewery in Portsmounth, NH.

With his signature outdoor wood-fired oven parked on the sidewalk, guests will be enjoying a truly special menu highlighting some of his award-winning breads, dishes created in collaboration with Chef Matthew Varga of Gracie’s, and perfectly paired with the craft beers of Smuttynose Brewery.

Hitz has been recognized with numerous awards and accomplishments, both in the industry and as a faculty member at Johnson & Wales. In 2007 and 2008, he was selected as Top Ten Pastry Chefs in America by Pastry Art & Design magazine. In 2010, he was named to Dessert Professional’s annual list of the Top Ten Bread Bakers in America.

Peter Egelston originally opened what is now the oldest brewpub in the northeast: The Northampton Brewery. Peter was head brewer there until 1991. That year, he and his sister opened the Portsmouth Brewery, the Granite State’s first brewpub. In 1993, he purchased the brewery that was to become Smuttynose. In 2011, out of over 10,000 breweries rated, Smuttynose was ranked 28th – in the top 0.3% – on Ratebeer’s 2011 Best Brewers in the World list.

The Star Chef Series, now in its fourth year, combines the talents of extraordinary chefs from around the country and pairs them with the Gracie’s team. Working collaboratively, the Star Chef and the team create a five-course menu that is expertly paired with wine. The informal and intimate setting allows the chefs to step out of the kitchen from time to time to talk with guests about the meal and their experience. The cost for a Gracie’s Star Chef Dinner (paired with wine) is $100. To make reservations call Gracie’s at 401-272-7811.

To learn more about these events, visit You can also follow Gracie’s on Facebook at

About Gracie’s
Established in 1998, Gracie’s in downtown Providence, R.I., provides guests with a culinary experience that is anything but expected. The 70-seat restaurant, located at 194 Washington Street just steps from Trinity Repertory Theater, entices guests with seasonally inspired American cuisine that is fresh and inventive. In addition to the main dining room, Gracie’s also offers a private wine cellar for up to eight guests and a private dining room that can accommodate up to 70 people. In addition to award-winning food, guests can enjoy five-star cocktails and a wine list of more than 200 wines. Gracie’s can also cater a wide and unlimited range of events through Grace, Events by Gracie’s. For more information, visit or call 401-272-7811.

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