Chef Michael White Celebrates 50 Years Of Prosciutto

Last night, chef Michael White held a private event at his New York restaurant Osteria Morini in honor of the 50th anniversary of the Consorzio del Prosciutto di Parma, a consortium of 156 producers of the celebrated ham from Parma, Italy. Four different varieties of prosciutto were showcased: 18-month aged, 20-month, 24-month, and a hand-sliced 30-month, as well as several of the restaurant's trademark dishes, including porchetta and pasta dishes such as his famous cappelletti filled with truffle, ricotta, and mascarpone, in a butter and prosciutto sauce.

"I remember the first time I ever saw prosciutto, actually," chef White, who has two new Manhattan restaurants, The Butterfly and Costada, set to open soon, told us. "I was at Spiaggia, in Chicago, and the only ham I'd seen before that was regular ham, and country ham. It was mind-blowing!"

White's love of prosciutto was cemented by a trip to a factory in Parma, however. "We walked into the aging room, and it was pitch dark," he said. "You could smell the prosciutto, though, and it was like nothing I've smelled before. They turned the lights on one by one, and all those hams lighting up is burned into my memory."

The longer the prosciutto ages, the more the flavors intensify and the fat tenderizes. "It's really a miraculous food," White added. "It's just sea salt and air."