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Cooking Classes With Roberto Donna


ctay122
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My husband gave me two cooking classes at Galileo for Christmas. One next week and another in March (hubby joining me on that one). I was wondering if anyone here has ever attended one, and if so, how they liked it, what they didn't like etc..I am really looking forward to it and hope that I won't be disappointed.

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My husband gave me two cooking classes at Galileo for Christmas. One next week and another in March (hubby joining me on that one). I was wondering if anyone here has ever attended one, and if so, how they liked it, what they didn't like etc..I am really looking forward to it and hope that I won't be disappointed.

Oh, wow, what a treat. Over the past five or so years, we have taken perhaps a half-dozen or more of the classes and enjoyed each one. Ours were pretty hands-on, so be prepared to get messy, play with knives, and stand at the hot stove.

From our experience it works this way:

Check in, and assemble in the Laboratorio. Some treats will be provided while everyone awaits the start of the class. You will probably get a booklet of recipes, many of which will be done by the class that day. (Beware, when you get home you will discover that the quantities and procedures in the recipes sometimes get lost in translation.)

Rather than just sit and watch like in some other classes, Chef Donna's class gathers around the main counter with Chef in the center. Each particpant has a "station" with whatever tools are needed. (Be alert and aggressive and nudge your way to a place near Chef rather than at the end of the counter. It is much more fun.)

Chef Donna will take you through a half dozen or so recipes. Just as in real life, you don't do each one from beginning to end, but rather have any number going at once. Depending on how comfortable and experienced you are, he could get confusingly ahead of you, but if you enjoy cooking and have basic kitchen skills, you should be able to keep up. Be sure to ask a lot of questions! He is a fountain of knowledge and loves to share it. His staff is terrific and will help you if you get stuck on something.

Beware, too, that Chef is quite generous with the wine during the class, so be careful with that knife!

As the parts of dishes are produced, staff whisks them away. When the lessons are done, everyone sits at table and the various parts come together into a great meal for you to enjoy.

The classes are expensive, but you learn a lot about techniques and ingredients (I struggled with risotto until he showed me how, and now it is superb, if I do say so myself), you eat and drink well, and Chef is quite a kick to work around.

Have fun and tell us what you did!

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I've taken a few and enjoyed them. I can't really add much to the description above. He is quite entertaining. It's actually quite a good value considering the food and wine you get as part of the class, in addition to the hands-on instruction and booklet of recipes. Take a pen so you can make notes on the recipes. What he does varies from what's written, and it's helpful to be able to keep track.

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This sounds really amazing. I've been meaning to seek out some cool cooking classes in the city, and this sounds right up my alley. Not to ruin ctay's Christmas gift, but how much do these classes run and how often? Long wait lists?

Edited by Connave
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Oh, wow, what a treat. Over the past five or so years, we have taken perhaps a half-dozen or more of the classes and enjoyed each one. Ours were pretty hands-on, so be prepared to get messy, play with knives, and stand at the hot stove.

From our experience it works this way:

Check in, and assemble in the Laboratorio. Some treats will be provided while everyone awaits the start of the class. You will probably get a booklet of recipes, many of which will be done by the class that day. (Beware, when you get home you will discover that the quantities and procedures in the recipes sometimes get lost in translation.)

Rather than just sit and watch like in some other classes, Chef Donna's class gathers around the main counter with Chef in the center. Each particpant has a "station" with whatever tools are needed. (Be alert and aggressive and nudge your way to a place near Chef rather than at the end of the counter. It is much more fun.)

Chef Donna will take you through a half dozen or so recipes. Just as in real life, you don't do each one from beginning to end, but rather have any number going at once. Depending on how comfortable and experienced you are, he could get confusingly ahead of you, but if you enjoy cooking and have basic kitchen skills, you should be able to keep up. Be sure to ask a lot of questions! He is a fountain of knowledge and loves to share it. His staff is terrific and will help you if you get stuck on something.

Beware, too, that Chef is quite generous with the wine during the class, so be careful with that knife!

As the parts of dishes are produced, staff whisks them away. When the lessons are done, everyone sits at table and the various parts come together into a great meal for you to enjoy.

The classes are expensive, but you learn a lot about techniques and ingredients (I struggled with risotto until he showed me how, and now it is superb, if I do say so myself), you eat and drink well, and Chef is quite a kick to work around.

Have fun and tell us what you did!

David,

Thanks so much for the in-dpeth description...now I am really excited! I have taken a few culinary arts courses when I was down in the Norfolk area (Soups and Stocks, American Regional Cuisine) and also the recreational pastry arts course at L'Academie de Cuisine , and I live and breathe cooking so this sounds like so much fun. I also got Chef Donna's cookbook for Christmas, although I haven't tried anything yet, I am reading it front to back. I can't even believe that my husband has agreed to go in March ( a 5 course dinner from Naples). My class Monday is a menu from one of the Chef's favorite restaurants Batezar-da-Renato in Saint Vincent, Aosta. We went to Galileo for RW and we had a fantastic dinner and service. I will post what we made at class next week. Thanks again!

p.s I wish I could learn to make risotto properly..whatever I do and it doesn't matter how slow I cook it, it is never soft enough.

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This sounds really amazing. I've been meaning to seek out some cool cooking classes in the city, and this sounds right up my alley. Not to ruin ctay's Christmas gift, but how much do these classes run and how often? Long wait lists?

I am currently having trouble accessing the site, but info can be found at www.galileodc.com

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Attended Chef Roberto Donna's cooking class Monday night. What a fun experience! There were 12 of us...upon arriving in the "Laboratorio" we were seated at the dining table and serve Prosecco, proscuitto, cheese and a variety of breads and breadsticks and got acquainted. Then we put our aprons on, grabbed our recipes and joined chef up in the kitchen area. The recipes we were making were from one of the Chef's favorite recipes from a restaurant called Batezar-da-Renato in Saint Vincent, Aosta. I grabbed a spot right next to Chef. After he explained the procedures, knife and stove safety and all that we proceeded to work on the first recipe. We were served glasses of white wine while up there cooking, as soon as your glass was empty, it was refilled. This happened through the whole class. Everyone made a small portion of each recipe and then we combined them all together (good for those who didn't cook the onions all the way thru as the chef pointed a few out). The end product was little beef cubes with onions in a wine reduction served over polenta. We made a dish with duck liver, artichokes and egg that was cooked in an egg coddler (wasn't sure if I like it or not). We also made a fonduta (cheese sauce) to go with gnocchi. The potatoes were already prepared, all we had to do was be shown the correct technique to form the gnocchi. The best dish we prepared was sea bass rolled in grated potatoes with a sauce made from grated zucchini, onion, garlic, ginger and yogurt. We also prepared a dessert with nougat served with zabione sauce. When we done making all the dishes we sat down at the table, more wine was poured (chianti) and we were served the dishes. Everything was wonderful and delicious. Chef has a great sense of humor and watching him in action was great. Unfortunately for me I left my little recipe booklet in the laboratorio, so yesterday I was trying to recreate them down on paper hoping I got them all right. Before he left for the evening, Chef Donna graciously signed aprons for those wanting his signature and also my cookbook of his my husband got me for Christmas. My husband and I are attending a class of his in March - a five course dinner from Naples. I am looking forward to attending and it most likely will not be my last.

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Thanks ctay! This is definitely something I need to do. Silly question: what did you wear? Five hours in the kitchen seems to call for comfort, but dinner at Laboratorio...

I arrived in my work clothes, I guess business casual, as were most everyone else. Wear comfortable shoes since you stand a bit. You get a little white apron with the Galileo logo on it. Definitely try it, I can't think of a better way to do dinner than to have the chef guide you through it as you watch him prepare it. I made one of the dishes last night for my husband and he raved about it. Have fun!

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Thanks for sharing your great experience ctay! After reading it, it inspired me to sign up for a class. The one that was most appealing to me was the "Let's Make Spaghetti Sauce, But Not Meatballs". So I signed up a few weeks ago, but there was a long waiting list (I was told that this was one of the more popular classes being offered.

Well, I got a call today letting me know that there were two spots that opened up and asked if I still wanted them. Of course I took them! So, it looks like my wife and I will finally get a chance to experience this!

Here's what we're going over:

FRITTATA DI SPAGHETTI

SPAGHETTI ALLA CHITARRA WITH ZUCCHINI

BIGOLI IN SALSA

CALAMARI SAUCE

LEMON PASTA SAUCE

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Thanks for sharing your great experience ctay!  After reading it, it inspired me to sign up for a class.  The one that was most appealing to me was the "Let's Make Spaghetti Sauce, But Not Meatballs".  So I signed up a few weeks ago, but there was a long waiting list (I was told that this was one of the more popular classes being offered.

Well, I got a call today letting me know that there were two spots that opened up and asked if I still wanted them.  Of course I took them!  So, it looks like my wife and I will finally get a chance to experience this!

Here's what we're going over:

FRITTATA DI SPAGHETTI

SPAGHETTI ALLA CHITARRA WITH ZUCCHINI

BIGOLI IN SALSA

CALAMARI SAUCE

LEMON PASTA SAUCE

Sounds wonderful! Please let me know how you liked the class. Don't do like I did and forget to take home the recipes!

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Well, Mrs mhberk and I attended the class on Saturday morning and had a GREAT time! We arrived at 10:30 and were offered muffins, coffee, tea, and still and sparkling water. After Chef Donna came in to explain what we could expect, we all lined up next to our cutting boards on the counter. I can see where some would consider it an advantage to line up right in front of Chef Donna, but personally, I think that every location had a great view of what was going on. Roberto was open to questions and very candid the whole time! At one point, I interrupted him to clarify one of the steps of one of the recipes or the theory of why he did something some way and after he answered it, he announced to the class that if any of us have questions, we shouldn’t worry about interrupting him. He wanted us to ask question and “that’s what (we’re) here for”.

I won’t go into detail about what we made, but I will say that it seemed like almost everyone (at least everyone that I saw) was a beginner. There were a few that were more advanced, but he was very patient with all of us and explained in very basic terms how to cut and sauté our ingredients. He showed us clues as to what to look for before we proceed with the next step of the recipe or before we add something else to the sauté pan. I was even able to ask more advanced questions as to why he would do something one way as opposed to another way and he had no problem answering them. He was also very open about his rematch and how he performed against Morrimoto and told me how he rated the other Iron Chefs.

Before we went on Saturday, I printed out this thread (as well as DCFoodie’s blog about the class) and showed it to Mrs mhberk so that she would know what to expect. After reading it, she said “he sounds mean!”. Just to clarify his attitude, he was very playful with his attitude the whole time. He would yell things like “Don’t bring me no raw onions!” or “keep those onions in the middle of the pan! Don’t bring me no black onions!” or “Don’t piss me OFF!!”. After each comment, you could hear the laughter from the whole class. The energy and dynamics of his presence made for a fantastic environment. He kept us excited and interested. When any of had a question, there was always one of his helpers around to answer it if Roberto was with someone else.

Once we were done with our 5 recipes (after making one at a time), we all sat down for a white table cloth meal. We sat down to wine, water and a few baskets of bread. As we sat there, our meal was served, one course at a time. There was even a white chocolate mousse for dessert. He had a very professional staff which consisted of plenty of help in the kitchen and a server that kept our glasses full and served us our food. All in all, we had a great time and thought it was an excellent gift to ourselves.

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Here is Chef Donna explaining the two different pastas that will be used

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Mrs mhberk preping her Frittata di Spaghetti

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Mrs mhberk making her Frittata di Spaghetti

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Chef Donna showing us how to cut the Zucchini

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Everyone holding the pasta that Roberto just rolled out in the KitchenAid

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Mrs mhberk cutting the pasta on the chitarra

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Mrs mhberk using the spaghetti press (actually, we don't know what this thing was called, but it pressed out the spaghetti)

Edited by mhberk
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I am glad you had a good time, and never thought about bringing my camera. How did you manage to cook and shoot at the same time? I think I'll take mine along next time also. The gentleman next to Chef Donna in the pasta holding picture is his Exec Chef. He cooked us and 6 other couples a wonderful dinner on Valentine's Day in the Laboratorio (see my post). The classes are so much fun, and I am looking forward to my husband coming with me next month for class as he is not much of a cook. I am hoping that he will be inspired enough to start sharing in the cooking or at least surprise me once in a while!

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Attended another Laboratorio cooking class with my husband on Monday. I had never seen my husband in an apron, so that was worth the price alone. The subject was a five course dinner from Naples. What we prepared (we ate our own): braciola (stuffed thin sliced pork loin braised in tomato sauce). What we helped prepare: insalata di rinforzo (pickled type of salad with cauliflower, peppers, olives , anchovy, hard boiled eggs), minestra maritata (escarole, chicory, fennel and celery, pancetta, chicken stock) - it was simple but delicious, soft Almalfi coast lemon cream, and the main course was a Neopolitan macaroni timbale. Ever since seeing "Big Night" I have wanted to try one of these. Chef Donna did the brunt of this, we simply rolled the minced veal into little tiny meatballs and rolled them in flour, and sauteed mushrooms and sausage. Chef Donna made marsala pastry. He put this whole thing together ( I don't know if I could attempt it on my own). It also had chicken livers, chicken breasts, ham, hard boiled eggs, pasta ,meat sauce, and mozzarella cheese. A springform pan was lined with the pastry dough, everything layered in, and then covered with more pasta dough and baked. It was the most incredible thing I have ever ate! But...I desperately need to learn dining etiquette. I guess at one point while taking a break (the timbale is so filling) I must have laid my fork and knife in whatever configuration that told the server I was done. Before I had a chance to even open my mouth to protest, it was whisked away! I still had about half to go, I was so bummed out. The class was preceeded by prosecco, cheese, sausage, breads, and breadsticks and during the class and dinner the wine glasses were never empty. Another wonderful experience. I wish Chef Donna had stuck around a bit longer , the last dinner he stayed around near the end to sign aprons and the recipe book you get with the class. There is a Risotto 101 class coming up I am considering but for $110 I think it may be a little pricey. If anyone is interested in the Timbale recipe, PM me and I'll scan it and email to you.

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Price has gone up a bit since we took it a few years ago, but the risotto class is definitely worth it. We had struggled with risotto until taking the class, and now we can say with confidence that our home preparations are almost as good as those of the professionals. The downside is that we sometimes find ourselves muttering to each other in a restaurant, "We can make this better at home."

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I went to a cooking class at Galileo once, and it was amazing! The best part came at the end of the class when Chef Donna, upon adding the last of his sweat to the risotto, ascended to heaven in a glorious beam of light and sat at the right hand of God, whom he had met during the Olympics in Turin.

I thought it was weird that we had to pay in cash, though.

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:unsure: I'm taking a class at Galileo the end of July and after reading what everyone here has said, I'm even more excited about it! My brother's flying up from Tennessee to take the class with me which I think is pretty cool.

The class we're taking is a 5-course dinner featuring lobster......YUM! I hope to bring the camera so I can post pictures here as well as on my blog.

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Price has gone up a bit since we took it a few years ago, but the risotto class is definitely worth it. We had struggled with risotto until taking the class, and now we can say with confidence that our home preparations are almost as good as those of the professionals. The downside is that we sometimes find ourselves muttering to each other in a restaurant, "We can make this better at home."

Alright, I broke down and registered for the August 25th risotto class. We're REALLY looking forward to it!

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Alright, I broke down and registered for the August 25th risotto class. We're REALLY looking forward to it!

Curious. I am a bit out of it with news on Roberto Donna, Galileo and Laboratorio, but wasn't his place under reconstruction for a while? Is that all over now?

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I am, (the morning class, that is). The short story behind this is while I have always been into cooking, this year I've started watching the TV cooking reality shows (Hells Kitchen-Mon., Top Chef-Wed.). After this week's TC restaurant wars debacle, my son (who's been watching these shows w/ me) started asking me about risotto- how do you cook it? what extras do you put in? how could Howie screw it up? I was embarassed to admit I had never cooked risotto, nor did I know what to do to make it excellent....When I saw the mention of the class by Roberto Donna, I jumped-I'll learn how to cook it & how it should taste...next Sat., I'll be there w/ bells on (well, not literally), I think it will be fun...

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I had a great time at the risotto class today-MHBerk, it was nice to meet you & your wife & get some inside info on your earlier class. I arrived too early, never having been there before, but it was easier to locate & to park than I had expected. Now, I definitely want to go back for dinner & try some other dishes.

Chef Donna gave us some basic tips on risotto, types of rice, method of cooking, then we all sliced some onions (some of which we saved for our individual efforts & the rest went into the community pot). He then cooked a large batch, giving us tips along the way, divided it into 2 batches, added some pureed spinach to one (w/ egg?) & saffron to the other. After cooling them down, we were shown how to prepare arancini w/ leftover risotto. My saffron one was nice, but for the spinach, my oil wasn't hot enough (running out of butane, flame went out), so they sort of fell apart-they still tasted delicious, though. We placed our finished risotto balls (or sludge, in the case of my spinach) at the table & went back to our burners to tackle our solo risotto. Shrimp stock, bit of tomato sauce, pesto, shrimp, bit of butter to finish. My burner went out halfway through, but after a quick replacement, I was up & cooking again. It was interesting trying to keep one eye on your own risotto & looking around to see how everyone else was doing. We took our finished plates back to the community table, ate, & talked about how it went. I went too heavy on the oil, I think, which was explained to me as the rice absorbing the stock too fast (so the addition of more stock would have helped). The chef then sent out plates of black risotto w/ cuttlefish & risotto w/ sausage, beans, & barbera (my fave! like the best red beans & rice you've ever had). After a delicious pannacotta w/ peaches (someone said mango, but it tasted more like peaches to me), which I couldn't do justice to, because I could feel the risotto continuing to expand in my stomach, & realizing I would fall asleep at the table if I sat there one minute more, I headed home.

My son, whose interest in risotto encouraged me to take the class, was ready to give it a shot as soon as I came home. I didn't have the proper ingredients on hand, so we improvised. Green onions instead of yellow, Calasparra (Bomba) rice, boxed (horrors!) stock instead of homemade. It took longer to cook, but I didn't overdo the oil this time. Finished w/ some butter & parmesan, then divided into 3 -plain, one w/ a spoonful of pesto mixed in, & the last w/ some diced pancetta. So, that was dinner, along w/ pork tenderloin & some sauteed spinach, & my biggest joy?-my daughter (an unenlightened eater, the original chicken nugget kid) said she loved it & that she wanted to have risotto all the time...Priceless!

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The risotto class was great and was everything that I expected (we went on vacation right after the class and this is the first chance I've had to write about it). It was great meeting you too Thistle!

The biggest things that I was able to take away from the class were the different queues that Roberto gave while taking us through the process of making the risotto. He told us how the onions should smell before adding the rice. He said to make sure that the onions not only looked translucent, but that all the acidic smell is gone before adding the rice. After he added the wine to the onions and rice and let it evaporate, he said that most cooks will begin adding the hot broth at this point. But he said that if you smell it (not going by sight alone), you will smell the acidity from the wine and you will know that it is still there (even though it looks like it's all gone) and not time to add the broth yet.

It was little things like that throughout the demonstration that made the experience worthwhile. We've made risotto twice since the class with great success.

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According to an email I received, classes continue in various locations (A la Lucia, Baci, and Chef's home):

HANDS-ON COOKING CLASSES

with Chef Roberto Donna

JUNE & JULY 2009 Schedule

NEW Topics! Classes Include: Apron, Recipes, 5-Course Lunch/Dinner & Wine

EVENING CLASSES: Weekend Dinner Date – @ 7:30 P.M. - $160 per person hosted for the first time @ Chef’s residence. Five Course Dinner, each course featuring cuisines from a different region in Italy

Friday Nights:

June 12 June 19 June 26

July 3 July 10 July 24 July 31

Saturday Nights:

June 13 June 20 June 27 July 11 July 25

AFTERNOON CLASSES: - @ 12:00 P.M., featuring various topics

Saturday: $125 per person, featuring various 5-Course Menu Topics

June 13 – Risotto: Class held @ Baci Restaurant & Wine Bar

June 20 – Tuscany: Class held @ A la Lucia Restaurant

June 27 – Naples: Class held @ Baci Restaurant & Wine Bar

July 11 – Sicily: Class held @ A la Lucia Restaurant

July 25 - Pasta Sauces Three (Sauces 1 & 2 are NOT a Pre-Requisite): Class held @ Baci Restaurant & Wine Bar

June 14 – Five Course - Seafood Menu

June 21 “Father’s Day” – Five Course featuring Beef Rib eye Menu - $180 per person

June 28 – Five Course featuring Shrimp

July 12 – Five Course Fish Related Menu

July 26 – Five Course featuring Salted Whole Fish

RESERVATIONS: Please call Nancy @ 202-257-0168, Monday-Saturday: 11AM – 8PM, reservations are MANDATORY, email requests to rdclasses@aol.com. All reservations are FINAL; NO cancellations are permitted as spaces are limited. Payment is due upon registering. Failure to attend will result in full charges of the cost of the class. Bebo Foods, Inc. holds the right to cancel a class if an adequate number of attendees is not met or at sole discretion.

CLASS LOCATIONS: A la Lucia Address: 315 Madison Street, Alexandria, VA 22314 - Baci Restaurant & Wine Bar: 4 N Washington Street, Rockville, MD 20850 & PV Residence

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Just don't ever try to unsubscribe from the email; they are incapable of removing your address from their list. I've been trying for months now, including calling the registration number and asking to have my address removed, and have finally just resorted to filtering the address so I don't see the emails any more.

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Just don't ever try to unsubscribe from the email; they are incapable of removing your address from their list. I've been trying for months now, including calling the registration number and asking to have my address removed, and have finally just resorted to filtering the address so I don't see the emails any more.

Yeah; and isn't it just great that instead of sending the email to you as a bcc addressee, they post the entire mailing list in the "To:" line. A spammers delight! I can't wait to see all the useless email I get now.

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