WHO - Ray Tanner, the Gamecocks' athletics director since 2012, spent 16 seasons as the Gamecocks' baseball coach, winning back-to-back NCAA national championships in 2010 and 2011.
HIS FAVORITE SC DISH - "The best thing I ever had in South Carolina is the Tortelloni alla Stephania with a Caprese salad at Il Giorgione restaurant on Devine Street in Columbia."
WHAT MAKES IT SPECIAL - "Il Giorgione is my favorite restaurant, and George and Monica (Kessler), the owners, are great friends. It has great food and it's a neighborhood restaurant, a special place. Whenever it's possible with my schedule, that's my stop. The Stephania is a pasta dish with Bolognese sauce, and the salad is so good because George makes the mozzarella cheese fresh every day and shops for the best tomatoes in Columbia."
"Dave (Ward) is the bartender at Il Giorgione, and I sometimes like to sit at the bar to eat my meal and visit with Dave. Sometimes my whole family sits there, too. I'd eaten a number of their dishes, and one day Dave said, ‘How about (trying) the Stephania?' And I've been stuck on it ever since. It's a great dish, not too heavy. I get the Caprese salad and the Stephania, and I'm good to go."
WHAT THE CHEF SAYS: George Kessler - "The Stephania is a traditional Bolognese dish from the town of Bologna in Italy. When most people think of Bolognese sauce, they think of a meat sauce, which is traditional but usually served with a flat egg pasta, such as the Pappardelle al Ragu, which is also on our menu. But this sauce, a San Marzano Tomato and Butter Sauce, is the traditional tomato sauce of Bologna, made with canned tomatoes and butter and a bit of salt, no meat, and almost always served with a cheese-filled tortelloni."
"In 2007, Monica and I went to a pasta-making school in Bologna, La Vecchia Scula Bolognese, and our teacher was named Stephania, which is why we call it that. We feel it's unique in South Carolina because we have a couple who lived in Bologna and come to our restaurant, and every time, they get the Stephania because they say it's the only time they've seen it in the US."
2406 Devine Street, Columbia