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West Michigan Woman December January 15 16 : Page 30

RESTAURANT OSTERIA ROSSA WARMTH OF THE MITTEN, SOUL OF THE BOOT By Amy L Charles “A casual eatery where people gather to enjoy small plates, wood fired pizza, homemade pasta, and seasonal dishes. Our focus is Italian inspired cooking featuring the local ingredients of Michigan farms, all served in a comfortable and friendly atmosphere.” O decades. Grand Rapids. On-the-Town . O Osteria Rossa, the brainchild of Chef Chris Perkey and octopus with arugula, white beans, pickled fennel, Calabria chili oil and lemon conserva; rigatoni with pulled pork, sausage, peas, pine nuts, San Marzano tomato sauce, cream, basil and parmesan; and the simple, yet delicious spaghetti. (Rumor has it that an attempt to switch up the rigatoni lasted about a week.) The restaurant offers specials each evening, which might involve whatever fresh fish in season Perkey can get his hands on, really great steaks or pizzas. For events and sizable parties, Osteria Rossa offers a family-style menu in which large plates are shared around the table—a tailored option that truly shows off the chef’s skills. Additional treats include wine dinners, the winter Sunday regional dinners that focus on a specific region of Italy and feature its food and wine, and beer and cocktail dinners, such as the recent New Holland Beer and Spirits event. Perkey takes pride in the atmosphere and flavors of Osteria Rossa. “We operate as an Italian family would if they were to come to Grand Rapids.” He’s also proud of sourcing the best ingredients through local producers, as the restaurant executes every dish in an old-world manner. “We say, ‘Warmth of the Mitten, Soul of the Boot.’” WMW Brittanie Bonham, opened its downtown Grand Rapids doors in June 2014. The restaurant graces the main floor of the revamped Kendall Building, which had been empty for the previous three Chef Perkey, originally from Chicago, worked for years in the kitchens of the Windy City with extremely talented and impressive chefs, among them Tony Mantuano at Spiaggia and Wolfgang Puck at Spago. People in West Michigan recognize Perkey as the owner and chef of the late Firehouse Grill, in East Bonham, Osteria Rossa partner and manager, worked with the old building’s exposed brick and industrial feel to create a haven for diners. In its first year, the restaurant has been lauded with honors including Best Restaurant of the Year, MLive; Best New Restaurant, Grand Rapids Magazine ; and Best New Restaurant, Fans of Osteria Rossa enjoy the details: a true applewood-burning oven, pasta made fresh every morning, a majority of Michigan-sourced products, a well-considered menu, a warm and inviting atmosphere. And while the menu rotates with the seasons and local offerings, some favorite items tend to stay put: braised 30 DECEMBER/JANUARY 2015-16 : WMW

Q&A - Meet Cathy Holbrook: Executive Director, St. Cecilia Music Center

Amy L. Charles

Cathy Holbrook was moving back to West Michigan when she learned St. Cecilia Music Center sought an executive director. A Forest Hills Central High School graduate, she moved to California after college. She’d received a degree in mass media and communication, yet music was in her soul; her mother taught piano, and Holbrook herself played French horn and piano. California led to a public relations and production position with La Jolla Chamber Music Society—which led to other interesting events: For about a year, she worked as a personal assistant to Andre Previn, in New York—“a great life experience!” Holbrook loves music and the nonprofit world, and will soon celebrate 10 years with St. Cecilia.

What are some of your favorite accomplishments?
We’ve made a lot of changes. St. Cecilia as an organization has a rich history, but it was time for some things to move forward. The St. Cecilia Music Society name was changed to St. Cecilia Music Center to relay the message to the community that everyone is welcome. I was the driver of the Jazz Series. I started the Folk Series, and am proud of our association with the Acoustic Café syndicated radio show, broadcast in over 150 cities. I was integral in creating our partnership with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, working closely with CMS artistic directors (cellist) David Finkel and (pianist) Wu Han. It’s an exclusive partnership, in which the CMS brings us their musicians.

What should everyone know about St. Cecilia Music Center?
Through our Presenting Series, the community has an opportunity to see world-renowned, highly in-demand artists in their genre, in a gem of an intimate hall in West Michigan.
Our building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and we have the honor of keeping and maintaining this beautiful landmark. St. Cecilia Music Center is 132 years old, and was founded by nine Grand Rapids women. Through their efforts, the first St. Cecilia building was erected. When the society needed a new home, those women raised the funds. We are the longest continually running arts organization in the area.

St. Cecilia Music Center hosts more than 23,000 hours of music education yearly. Other major arts organizations in town got their start here—the symphony, the opera, Civic Theatre. We’re still an arts incubator. Our music education is based on wanting to bring art into lives. We’ve had the same mission since 1883: To promote the appreciation, study and performance of music in order to enrich the human spirit and enhance the quality of the lives of the residents of West Michigan.

What are some highlights for the coming year?
There’s a lot to enjoy! We have a fabulous January show for the Chamber Series: Piano Extravaganza features four pianists sharing the stage and even sharing pianos. Our Acoustic Café Series includes Shawn Colvin and Leo Kottke. In the Jazz Series, Cyrille Aimée has a really interesting way of presenting concerts, looping and layering her tracks. And our School of Music offers a wide array of programs for youth and adults.

Music Lives Here:

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