Great Chefs of the Hudson Valley: Cucina’s Gianni Scappin

by Tom Grasso

Roll recently invited a few prominent Hudson Valley chefs to contribute some of their favorite recipes to our Cuisine pages. The first to respond was Gianni Scappin, chef/​co-​​owner of Cucina in Woodstock and Market Street Cafe in Rhinebeck.

Gianni Scappin was born in Marostica, in the Veneto Region of Northern Italy, about one and a half hours from Venice. His parents owned a small trattoria “home-​​​​style” restaurant specializing in hearty fare like risotto with porcini, lasagna, and seasonal dishes like leper in salmi (stewed hare). As a very young man Gianni remembers his father Luigi working patiently in the kitchen, stirring the risotto for what seemed like hours, putting great care and passion into preparing the deceptively simple repast. Much later as an adult, Gianni realized the special lesson his father imparted to him. “He left me with a lot of wisdom. He cooked, you see, with his soul.”

Chef Scappin sent us a recipe for a typical hearty winter soup from the north east of Italy which can be served as a whole meal. Enjoy!

Beef Soup with Barley and Potatoes:  Yield: 6 – 8 portions (about 2 qts)


½ cup Extra virgin olive oil
2 oz Bacon small dice (optional)
2 lb Onions, medium dice
½ Red bell pepper (or green), small dice
¼ cup Parsley, Italian, washed and roughly chopped
1 ½ lb or more Beef chuck, boneless, cleaned, cut into cubes
2 Tbsp Sweet paprika
½ tsp Caraway seeds
¼ tsp or to taste Cayenne pepper
4 Tbsp Tomato paste
2 qt Beef or chicken stock
½ cup Barley
1 lb Potatoes, diced
Sour cream to serve


Render bacon (if using it), then in the same fat sweat onion and cook for about 12 minutes until tender and golden.

Sear beef In batches and season with salt

Add all ingredients, except barley and potatoes, to onions and stir for about 10 minutes.

Add stock and cook (simmering) for about ¾ hr, add barley, potatoes, and cook until barley is done, and meat is tender, about another 30 minutes. Depending on how much liquid you want in your soup you may add or reduce the amount of liquid.

Make sure beef and barley are very tender, before you serve it.

Soup may be made in advance of course and in my opinion is even better if made the day before and then reheated, or make a big batch and freeze some for another day.

Serve with sour cream on top or with just extra virgin olive oil.


NOTE: you may use chicken or any other type of meat. Also depending on how rich you want your soup to be, you may add more or less meat.


Gianni Scappin

All the food was simple. And I don’t mean easy or dumb. I mean that for the first time, I saw how three or four ingredients, as long as they are of the highest and freshest quality, can be combined in a straightforward way to make a truly excellent and occasionally wondrous product.”—Anthony Bourdain, Kitchen Confidential, in reference to Le Madri and its head chef, Gianni Scappin

Best-​​selling author, ex-​​chef, and star of the Travel Channel’s No
Reservations Anthony Bourdain shines an occasionally harsh
light behind the kitchen door of top restaurants world-​​wide in his
notorious book Kitchen Confidential. Few great chefs he came in
contact with escape his hilariously acid pen, let alone receive his
absolute respect. Giovanni “Gianni” Scappin, head chef and co-​​owner
of Cucina in Woodstock and Culinary Institute of America
Italian Cuisine instructor, is, as seen in the above quote, one of those
rare few. —excerpt from Roll Magazine, November 2008

To read Roll’s complete interview with Chef Scappin click this link.

Gianni Scappin is Chef/​Co-​​Owner of Cucina in Woodstock NY
and Market St. in Rhinebeck NY

Gianni Scappin in the kitchen at Cucina, 2008. Photo credit, Matt Petricone



Comments are closed.