After a whirlwind, week-long trip to Italy and France, Best New Chef alum Danny Grant of Maple & Ash in Chicago still can’t shake off all the delicious things he had in Modena in Italy.
Chef Danny Grant
Credit: Courtesy of Danny Grant

Danny Grant, the Best New Chef alum and culinary brains behind Maple & Ash in Chicago, had a whirlwind trip to Italy and France earlier this year.

In just one week, he hit up the food destinations, but what stuck with him were all the amazing things he ate and learned about in Modena. Here’s where he eat, drank and wandered in the ancient city.

Aceto Modena

“I got a private tour of this renown balsamic vinegar maker, learning the process of making ‘black gold’ from start to finish and eating tons of grapes along the way. We had lunch in the small town of Formigine nearby. We had an assortment of cured meats, gnocchi frito and whipped mortadella, all served with the most delicious balsamic vinegar.”


Umberto Panini Motor Museum

“This museum showcases the history and evolution of the Maserati, but there is also a small Parmesan cheese production facility attached. They cultivate their own land and raise cattle to process milk for their high quality but limited quantity cheese. 6,000 liters of milk produces only about 12 wheels of cheese.”

Vecchia Pirri

“This is traditional Modena food. Their tortellini was amazing, and they also had a beef fillet cooked in balsamic vinegar. However, their chocolate tart with sabayon was the best I’ve ever had."

Chef Danny Grant
Credit: Courtesy of Danny Grant

Caffe Concerto

“There are certain dishes that are so good you need to order a second round. That’s how I felt about the fried passatelli pasta, where they used breadcrumbs as the base instead of flour. It’s simply made with those breadcrumbs, eggs, Parm, nutmeg and lemon zest. And it’s absolutely delicious.”

Chef Danny Grant
Credit: Courtesy of Danny Grant

Caseficio Gennari Parmesan Production Plant

“We walked through the entire process of making their famed Parmesan cheese. I tried a new special cheese they haven’t yet imported to the U.S., but we’re hoping to partner with them to get the cheese delivered to us soon.”

La Smorfia Due

“Of course, I had to look for the best pizza shop in the city. And according to locals, this is it. I ordered two pies: arugula and prosciutto and the Picante. After a few digestif, we stumbled upon a little hole-in-the-wall kebab shop and, even though I was too full, I couldn’t help myself and ordered a sandwich. It was the best decision I ever made—it was absolutely to die for.”