A new business that combines hospitality and artistic cuisine is opening its doors this week on Mercer Island.
Caruccio’s, a cutting edge culinary event center with a full demonstration kitchen, will have a soft opening on Aug. 24, with a grand opening and ribbon cutting set for Sept. 14.
Caruccio’s is a passion project of Islander Lisa Caruccio and her husband, Rino. On the website, Caruccio writes that her inspiration for the business “stems from my love of those dear to me, our beloved community and my long-standing admiration for my grandfather, an accomplished Italian chef.”
She even embedded a few of her grandfather’s recipes in the foundation of the space, which is located at 2441 76th Ave. SE. It is in the Aviara building, next to The Dailey Method. The venue was designed in consultation with Suzanne Zahr, whose design-build studio is right down the street from Caruccio’s.
At the centerpiece of Caruccio’s is a demonstration kitchen, “where the magic happens.” Its curved countertop, 12 burners, large overhead screens and film walls set the stage for featuring skilled chefs and instructors from around the world.
Food professionals, bloggers and film producers are invited to use Caruccio’s kitchen to showcase new products or dishes, test recipes or film a televised cooking class or event. It is the “ideal setting for your next pop-up venture or product launch,” according to Caruccio’s website.
Caruccio’s is also a 2017 Gold Level corporate sponsor of the Mercer Island Farmers Market. Caruccio said she is “passionate about giving back to my community by sharing my love for creative cooking, and for providing a place where can people can come together.”
Cindy Swain, a Washington state native and Italy-based food blogger who publishes “Italicana Kitchen,” will be on Mercer Island to help with the launch, hosting cooking classes for kids, teens and adults, along with an ancient grain culinary demonstration and a three-course ancient grain dinner.
Two Italian companies are helping to sponsor these events: Poggia del Farro (farro products) and Balsamico Bonini (aged balsamic vinegar).
Caruccio has lived and experienced food and culture all over the world, including in Italy, England, Singapore and Japan.
“While living abroad, I rooted myself in each culture’s food scene, diving into kitchens and cooking classes,” Caruccio wrote. “My time in Italy and Japan especially taught me so much about what beautiful, selfless hospitality looks like.”
She studied hotel and restaurant management, and is an accomplished cook and caterer, though she never trained as a chef herself. Her previous business venture involved offering pasta-making classes from her home kitchen, “Cucina Caruccio.”
Carucio’s will expand on that concept, hosting culinary, wine and film events, corporate and private events, cooking classes, kitchen studio rental, live food blogging, photography studio rental, product launches and much more.
During this week’s soft opening, Caruccio’s will be operable, but not completely done with all of the construction finishings.
“It is our first week, so there will be kinks to work out,” Caruccio said. “Of course we want people to come sign up for our soft opening classes still.”
More exciting developments will come in the fall. Starting Sept. 23, Caruccio’s will have cafe hours on Saturdays and Sundays from 7 a.m. to noon, serving coffee and croissants. “Food and film nights,” featuring appetizers and beverages during great cultural films for attendees 21 years and older, will start sometime later this year.
For more information, see www.caruccios.com.