Halloween will be here before we know it and the theme of “Dangerous Decadence” was on the minds of the producers of Chopped Sweets!
For those of you not familiar with Chopped, this is an excerpt from their webpage: In a sweet spinoff of the ultimate culinary competition, host Scott Conant challenges four bold pastry artists to take on one of the toughest tests of their lives. Faced with baffling basket ingredients and an unrelenting clock, the sensational, sugar-savvy chefs must demonstrate their skill, concentration and imagination as they race to see who will claim the $10,000 prize.
And what, you may ask, does this have to do with Il Volo? Well, let me tell you!
Our own “little cupcake” and one of our younger Ilvolovers, Emilia Tomaszycki, is a pastry chef and will be on the upcoming episode of Chopped Sweets! – “Dangerous Decadence!” tonight, Sep 15, on the Food Network Channel at 10p EST. If you don’t have cable, you can still watch it live at this link: https://www.foodnetwork.com/shows/chopped-sweets
Beware of the baskets! The fear factor is off the charts when the competing chefs must work with some dangerously delicious ingredients — like the scary, hairy creepy-crawly in the first basket! From poisonous to moldy to superstinky, the second basket delivers on the deadly theme, and one of the judges is appalled by what she sees in the third basket. Can she overcome her phobia in time to enjoy the final desserts?
Although Emilia has been keeping quite busy, as she is currently on a special assignment near Denver, I was able to catch up to her while on a quick trip home to Michigan!
Jana: So, Emilia, tell us where you are from and where you are now.
Emilia: I am originally from Richmond, Michigan and am currently working as the pastry supervisor for the Ritz Carlton in Naples, Florida.
Jana: That’s so wonderful, Emilia, and at such a young age to have such responsibility! When did you know you wanted to be a pastry chef? Were your family and friends always supportive?
Emilia: From the age of about 14 I knew I wanted to be a pastry chef. I took the four basic Wilton Cake Decorating Courses at Joanne Fabrics and Michael’s craft stores, which ignited my passion. I got my first job at a small hometown bakery, at which I was soon promoted to head cake decorator. It was then that I knew I wanted to go to college for this. I finished high school and started college that fall at the Culinary Institute of Michigan. From there I received my associate in baking and pastry only to move on to the real world. My family and friends were always very supportive right from the beginning.
Jana: Becoming a pastry chef is a very challenging career to choose with a lot of competition. What were some obstacles you encountered along the way?
Emilia: One of the biggest obstacles for a woman in the culinary industry is professionalism and being taken seriously. It’s not easy to make a name in this culinary world, but especially not for women who are still looked down upon. This is an old-fashioned way of thinking and it is slowly changing, as many female culinary and pastry rock stars are rising up.
Jana: I’m sure you have had several positions leading up to your current job. Which job would you say was your favorite so far?
Emilia: My favorite position is the one I’m in now; a pastry supervisor at the Ritz Carlton Naples, Florida. I’ve worked so hard every day for each new position, so I can definitely say that I’m happy to be where I’m at now.
Jana: Do you have a favorite dessert to make? What is the easiest thing to make that looks difficult?
Emilia: My favorite dessert to make would have to be an entremet, or an intricately layered torte. The flavor combinations are endless and curling into the work of art to reveal all the layers is so satisfying. The easiest thing for me to make that looks the most difficult is probably a wedding cake. I’ve been doing wedding cakes for 8+ years so they have almost become relaxing yet thrilling for me. Each one is always different and unique but pleasing to the eye when finished.
Jana: How long did you want to be on Chopped Sweets? How long did it take? Was it a long or hard process? Did you have to go through various interviews? Were you able to meet any other celebrity chefs while you were there?
Emilia: I knew I eventually wanted to be on TV, but I hadn’t set any timelines for myself. I had received an email about Chopped Sweets and I just so happened to be sitting in a 3-hour layover. I filled out the application and within 24 hours the casting company was calling me asking for more interviews, pictures, videos, and more. The whole process took several months, but again I had no timeline for myself. I got to meet the judges on the show and of course made some life-long friends because of it. I was under contract, so I couldn’t say anything to my coworkers or friends. It was one of the hardest secrets I had to keep, especially after we filmed the show.
Jana: What got you through the last few months when no one was working?
Emilia: During quarantine when I wasn’t working, I honestly didn’t bake much. It was my time to relax my hands and sit down and write new menus. I FaceTimed my friends often and tried to not think about work too much. That time really helped me to refocus on what I wanted in life.
Jana: Was being on Chopped the most challenging thing you’ve ever done so far? Would you do it again?
Emilia: Being on Chopped was one of the most challenging, yet riveting things I’ve ever done. You see these baking competitions on tv and think, “Oh I could do that! These people just don’t know what they are doing.” Until you’re on the show, 20 cameras are pointed at you, you’re taped and strapped with hidden microphones, and you have 25 minutes to create a dish with unknown items in the basket in front of you. It’s terrifying and I can’t deny that I sat backstage at one point trying not to throw up. Would I do it all again? In a heartbeat! I loved it! The experience was unlike any other. I miss it already!
Jana: Thank you, Emilia, what an honest response. Is there anything you’d like to add that we haven’t already covered on this topic?
Emilia: I’d like to say, you never know what you’re capable of until you try it. I stepped out of my comfort zone once again and I made it on the show. Always try to push yourself a little beyond your limits, to help you discover the unknown.
Jana: Thank you Emilia, for telling us a bit about your background and the show. Now, let’s talk about how you came to know Il Volo and how we met you…
How did you discover Il Volo?
Emilia: I discovered Il Volo right after they did their first concert at the Detroit Opera House. My first concert of theirs that I went to was at Freedom Hill in 2014.
Jana: What a coincidence, Emilia – that was my first concert as well! 😊
Emilia: I became a huge fan, so of course I wanted to find others that were equally as intrigued as I was. The Detroit Il Volo fan club Facebook page became more and more popular where I grew to know the Detroit Il Volo Gals! I don’t believe I started it though.
Jana: Yes, I remember having a similar experience and also combed FaceBook trying to find any fan pages and came upon the Detroit Il Volo fan club page. I remember being intrigued at seeing there was a group getting together to celebrate Gianluca’s birthday at a local Italian restaurant. I remember I responded myself and one other person would be attending. I think Donna (one of our Detroit Il Volo Gals) was on there as well.
Emilia: Yes, Donna and I had met through the Facebook page then finally we met in person. She is the absolute sweetest thing! She and I helped coordinate the Gianluca gathering and we’ve been going there ever since. Unfortunately, with not being in Michigan very much anymore, I can seldom join the group to celebrate, but I do, whenever I get the chance!
Jana: I made reference to calling you “cupcake” in the beginning of this interview, I hope you are ok with it? 😊 I recall that Donna often called you cupcake as well, did she start that? It’s certainly the perfect nickname for you!
Emilia: Donna has called me cupcake ever since I can remember and I love it! It’s kind of nostalgic for me. My dad has always called me cupcake because when I was about 3 years old, I used to wear these cupcake pajamas that were my favorite. So, then the nickname was given to me!
Jana: Many of us often give the guys gifts at the meet and greets. Did you ever bring them anything?
Emilia: One year I had made a dessert box to bring to the boys to give to them after the concert at the meet and greet. They seemed to like everything! I tried to make some dairy free things for Piero at the time too. It made me happy to see them happy.
Jana: Yes, I remember that and seeing their happy faces. Just so you know, I believe the Chicago concert was after the Detroit one and I recall asking Piero at that meet and greet if they liked the pastries, he said they did! 😊
Ok Emilia, one last question, who is your favorite Il Volo guy?
Emilia:Piero, of course! 😊
Thank you, Emilia for spending some time with us today. I would wish you well on Chopped, but we know it’s already been taped! However, we hope you did well and weren’t the first one to be chopped!
Ok everyone, be sure to watch Emilia and the rest of the Chopped contestants tonight, Tuesday, September 15, 2020 at 10p EST! Don’t worry if you miss it, it airs again the next night!
You can also follow Emilia on Instagram at “Pastry_Panache”
Happy Birthday to our dear Ignazio! This post is now asking for song suggestions!
Please send your song suggestions to our Il Volo gmail account email:
Kelly needs your songs by Tuesday, September 15, 2020, so she can choose a song for Igna’s birthday video. 🙂
Feel free to start sending in your wishes also, to the same email.
I am requesting you send you wishes and song suggestions separately, so it is easier to sort and not miss anything. Please state “birthday wish” or “song suggestion” in your email subject line, if possible. Grazie Mille!!
Also, please do not post any wishes or song suggestions to Facebook, they will not be read.
Hello folks! I hope everyone is having a great 4th of July in the USA! We are having quite the hot summer here in Michigan, with these past few weeks in the low 90s and this week, all 90s! Thought I would repost our little adventure from July 4, 2016, for all to enjoy again! 🙂 It was certainly the best 4th of July I will ever remember!! 🙂
Everyone please stay safe and wear a mask, the virus seems to be coming back with a vengeance again in the US! 🙁
Ciao! Yes, it’s been a little while since my last story of adventure…but I continue!
Ah, Venice Mestre train station. This was our shortest train ride, only about an hour or so to Verona from Venice. We got to the train station very early, since we were only about 10 minutes away. We got there in plenty of time before our departure of 8:32am. We were able to have a leisurely breakfast and scout out our train track. The Venice train station was not quite as sophisticated as Florence, so we knew we had to go down and up again to find our train. We looked on the schedule, but could not see our train. There were three trains to Verona,but none that left at our exact time. That seemed strange. So, we made our best guestimate and chose the one track. I was still a bit skeptical, but the time was the closest. I was able to ask a lady, in Italian, and she seemed to think we were on the wrong one, we needed to be a few tracks over and the schedule was on the posted sign. I think it was like a regular commuter train, so it didn’t have a special departure scheduled, which is why it wasn’t posted. I went back to Lorna and we discussed it. It kind of made sense, but we stayed where we were anyway. Ok, here comes our train. We get on where we think our car is, but when we boarded, there were no seat numbers on the seats. We had first class tickets with assigned seating! I said aloud, in English, “But there are no numbers on the seats?”A nice, young lady heard me speaking in English and said, “You are on the wrong train!”“What? Dove?,” I said, and showed her our tickets. She pointed to the other track, same track the other lady told us. I looked at my phone – it was 8:27a!We literally had 5 minutes to get down and back up again, and make it to the other train. We literally FLEWoff that train and a nice Italian gentleman hefted our suitcases up the long flight of stairs to the other side. We were literally walking/running as fast as we could toward our train. The conductor saw us and asked if we were on this train, we said yes. We started to get on and he said, no, other car. Then he changed his mind and said to go ahead, and we could walk from there. We literally no sooner got on the train and it took off! It was the last train to Verona for that day!Yes, we almost missed the Verona concert! Ok, “dove” the prosecco that morning!
We made it to the Verona train station – again, similar to Venice, we had to once again go down the closet-sized elevator and up the other side. Another long wait for the taxi, but we made it. When we got there, it was still quite early and check-in wasn’t until much later in the afternoon. So, we were able to stow our bags in the reception area. The concierge gave us a map of the city and we took off, map and Google Maps in hand on our way to find out where the Arena di Verona was. Looked like it was in walking distance from the hotel, so we set off. It reminded me of “following the yellow brick road” except it was a wide asphalt running/walking path to the main part of the city. We quickly got off the map we were sort of following and I gave up and got out Google again. We got turned around a few times, but I figured it out. On the way to the Arena, Lorna stopped in a shoe shop and bought these really cool flowered tennis shoes. The sun was playing peek-a-boo with the clouds and it looked like it might rain. When we neared the Arena, the sun finally decided it was going to stick around. I took a few pictures as we were in the surroundings of the arena with a plethora of outdoor restaurants/cafes to choose from for lunch. We had worked up quite the appetite by then.
We walked to the arena to see exactly where it was and where the entrances were. After that, we perused the various restaurants and picked out a table. It ended up being a beautiful afternoon and we splurged on our lunch that day. Lorna had some kind of pasta with seafood. I had a Caprese salad and a pizza and we even had a bottle of Moscato. It was a very leisurely lunch and we just chatted and relaxed and wondered where the guys might be?We finally decided it was time to go. On our way, we passed by this one hotel and there were a herd of girls standing outside. Ok, this must be the place! Lol! Yes, apparently the guys were staying at the hotel aptly called “The Gentleman of Verona.” No, we never saw them, although we strolled by and asked the girls if this was where Il Volo was. Of course they said yes. We kept walking and continued our tour of the city, with the sun playing more peek-a-boo with the clouds. With my faithful companion of Google Maps, we took the long way around, but thankfully made it back to the hotel. It was late enough by then, so we could check in. Another small elevator, but at least we both fit. We got to our room and it was very nice. The sun decided it was going to stay out at last. We had a tiny, enclosed, little balcony with a window you could open. The view from our room was gorgeous and amazing. You could see over the entire city. Took some more pictures and then we decided to relax a little. We took a nap and decided we’d get ready and take a cab to the Arena. I was still trying to hook up with Betty, but we kept missing each other! When we got downstairs we asked the concierge to call us a cab again, to the Arena. She said had just called one for 2 other ladies and maybe we could share it? We thought that would be nice, so we went outside and communicated roughly in Italian, and asked if they were going to Il Volo also and could we share the cab. They said yes. We got in and was happily expecting to share the cab fare and they paid the whole thing! Such nice Italian hospitality! We were still a bit full from lunch, but decided we should eat something. So, we went back to the same restaurant where we had lunch. However, we just ordered dessert. Lorna had Tiramisu and espresso, and I had chocolate torte cake. We also ordered another bottle of Moscato. The cake was good, although a bit on the dry side. As previously mentioned, Lorna graciously let me have the 2nd row seat…but as we were sitting at our table, we were watching the crowd get in line – it was over an hour before the concert started. People were everywhere! It was kind of crazy. We knew we had assigned seats, so we thought we’d just sit and watch everyone instead. We finally gave up and decided to fight our way through the crowds. Lorna went first, as she went through a different entrance. I paid the bill and ventured on to the other side of the Arena. I showed my ticket and they let me in. I bought a few souvenir t-shirts and scarves and found my way to the 2nd row seat. My new friends Veronica, Laura, and Daniela, arrived about 15 minutes later. This was exciting. Before the concert began, we heard the orchestra warming up “Per Te Ci Saro” was playing! Oh, yes, I was finally going to hear them sing it live! Since I reviewed the concert already, a few days after it happened, I won’t go into detail again. Yes, you are welcome. Lol! But a quick recap of starting with “Per Te Ci Saro” and ending with their usual 2 of “Surrender” and “Grande Amore” it was pretty awesome. And I swear it happened just that quickly. Again, I was quite surprised they did the Godfather routine…
Insert actual concert review….
For me, this was the most magical and perfect concert ever. Not only was it a perfectly beautiful evening weather-wise, I FINALLY got to hear all my favorite songs. They really picked the best of the best for this finale concert. The stage and the lighting were magnificent. They had the monitors and also the videos going for many of the songs. I thought for sure we were going to be blinded by the lights again, but it was only once or twice.
I finally got my dream come true and into my Il Volo trance I went. They started with Per te ci saro!! OMG, I sang the whole thing! I wanted to stand after every song, but the Italians don’t do that. They did stand after the solos and duets. There were few empty seats…Lorna was so awesome, she let me have the 2nd row seat for the entire concert. I will remember it forever.
Even thought it was second row, we were still quite far from the stage. Like the orchestra pit area was empty of chairs and unlike the first Verona concert in September last year, the stage did not come out in the middle.
Their voices were of course perfection and Igna added his own to the end of My Piove – a little jazzier riffs and Gian joined him for a few…
Yes, they sang my favorites – Per te, l’more si muove, torne l’amore, canzone per te. They even did a slight sketch of the Godfather routine. Igna even sang Allegria and didn’t cry. No Ancora though….
Gian sang Bridge…and it was incredible. I remember telling Donna it would get better after we heard it in LA and she said “how could it get better?” It did!!
I think someone mentioned that they were filming part of that movie where the guys are going to be part of it about opera. Apparently, the guy who is the star actor was in the front row a few seats down from us. And?! The guys were cuter!! Lol! They did this filming during the concert, but it was no big deal.
The one big shocker was that they did not sing O Sole Mio! Not disappointed as they left in Surrender!! Igna and Piero did their thing.
Since I was in the 2nd row, I imagine I’ll be somewhere in the DVD and group shot in the end. My split second of fame. Lol! I was in a pink dress to the right of the stage.
I did not see any of the immediate family except for Mary Grace, Piero’s sister and I think Alessio? Gianluca’s friend. At the end, Igna went over and gave this older guy a bear hug and picked him up, but no clue who he was. He looked a little like one of his uncles.
If people want to know what to give Igna at the next m/g I would suggest a belt. He was pulling up his pants the entire night!
I took some pictures and taped a few songs, but my phone camera and the lights were not friends.
By the time you read this, pictures will be all over everywhere, as well as videos.
Did I say how incredibly awesome it was???? Igna was also playing the piano and a few other instruments. Gian was wearing tennis shoes and racing across the stage every so often.
Don’t get me wrong, the tenor concert was awesome also, but this was more special and magical for me, as I have been waiting to hear these songs live for as long as most of you!
It was all in Italian except Igna said Thank You. I did not quite catch what was going on, but something about studying their speech for the next song, etc. I also had my friend Veronica to translate a few things for me!
I’m still trying to realize I’m in Italy! I’ve seen the guys 5 times now this year. You just keep thinking when is the next time? They are planning another tenor tribute concert in the arena next May 17, but you know, nothing is ever as special as the first time! My guess is that they might incorporate a few of those songs into their regular concerts next tour.
Ok, it is now a little after 2am! I really need some sleep if I can, that is.
They really outdid themselves with this one!!
Part of my mission to the Verona concert was to take a few little presents to 2 friends of Sharon’s. They were sitting in the front row, but on the other side. Unfortunately, security would not let me leave my seat, even though it was just a row up. Fortunately, I was able to text her and Veronica communicated in Italian of my plight. Luckily, we were able to connect after the concert. Lorna and I also quickly met up afterward and Veronica took our pictures. We then made our way to the taxi line and got back to our hotel. I was determined I did not want to forget a thing, so I stayed up til about 2am finishing my post! Was the shortest night on record. We had to be at the train station very early, as we had a 7a train to Rome and it was a 3-hour trip. After what I believe was about a 3-4 hour “nap” I dragged myself out of bed about 5:30a to take a shower and we were out of there. Again, missing breakfast at the hotel! Next stop – Roma and the Adriatic Sea!