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When Rori Met Luca: A Food & Wine Love Story

She's a food stylist; he's a photographer. They fell in love at a FOOD & WINE photo shoot. Needless to say, we got the scoop on their wedding--and their delicious menu.

Clicking cameras are a wedding staple, but when a photographer marries a woman whose best friends are photographers, the picture taking can get a little out of hand. When Luca Trovato wedded Rori Spinelli, many of the five dozen guests made liberal use of their professional lenses. The groom surrendered his two 35 mm cameras just before the ceremony; he retrieved them soon after.

Luckily, the couple was photogenic--and so was the food at their reception. Besides writing and developing recipes, Spinelli-Trovato is a stylist who makes dishes look perfect for photo shoots. She carries a tool kit with brushes, Q-tips and forceps, and she'll coat a turkey with soy sauce and honey so it's just the right mahogany. But as a former restaurateur and private chef, she wants things to taste as good as they look.

The couple, who met on a FOOD & WINE shoot in Italy three years ago, considered marrying at Trovato's family home on the tiny Ligurian island of Palmaria, but the logistics became overwhelming. "If you forget a stick of butter, you have to take the boat back to the mainland. If you're short one chair, it's back on the boat," Spinelli-Trovato says. She grew up in California, and Trovato went to college there; a West Coast wedding was inevitable. They tied the knot in Monterey, with the Pacific Ocean's waves crashing in the background.

The reception took place at old Monterey's Stokes Restaurant & Bar. Spinelli-Trovato wanted the celebration to feel exuberant and down-to-earth, so she designed a family-style menu, with big bowls passed at the table. "When two Italian families get together, you just can't do plated French service," she says.

Spinelli-Trovato left the job of creating the recipes to Stokes chef Brandon Miller, but she had some presentation requirements. She brought her own bowls and plates for the appetizers, which included garlicky fava-bean crostini. And she insisted that the main-course lamb be garnished with a colorful lemon gremolata and that the morel-studded risotto contain bright green peas. The dessert, however, needed no adjustment: Each person received a small, exquisite wedding cake from Napa Valley's Perfect Endings. When Trovato discovered the bakery several years before, he made a deal with the owner, Sam Godfrey, even though he and Rori had just started dating. "I don't need a cake right now," Trovato told Godfrey, "but I'll be calling you soon."

Published June 2001
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