The Amalfi coast is an ever-popular destination, this review is Mamma Agata’s. Perched high above the ocean with spectacular views, Mamma Agata’s is run by Mamma Agata herself, daughter Chiara Lima and Chiara’s husband Gennaro Petti. The views from the terraces that run down to the sea are quite amazing, but not as amazing as the food you will learn to cook.
Mamma Agata started her culinary career, at age 13, as a private chef for a wealthy American. She has cooked for some of the most famous names in Hollywood including Humphrey Bogart, Fred Astaire and Anita Eckberg. She has even cooked for former fi rst lady, Jackie Kennedy. Today Mamma Agata still uses these skills to show others how to prepare the same meals she served the stars. She taught another Hollywood actor, Pierce Brosnan and his wife many Italian cooking secrets while on holiday.
Mamma Agata’s also runs Italian wine tastings with Gennaro, a sommelier by trade, and a walking encyclopedia where wine is concerned.
Maribel Agullo started her cooking school several years ago in Bologna and now works out of three locations depending on the size of the group. She has tailored classes for one person or several, which is great if you’re holidaying with friends.
While making the famous egg pasta of Emilia-Romagna or cooking with aceto balsamico, you will not only pick up some valuable cooking lessons, but also learn about Maribel’s life. Married to an Italian, she’s part Italian and part South American. She makes wonderful pasta.
Attending one of Maribel’s classes is like learning to cook with a friend. You talk while you learn and then you sit and eat – of course with more talking.
Maribel also conducts tours of the local market where she takes you shopping for the ingredients that will later turn into a fantastic meal.
This school is larger than most but is equally excellent. From a single day session to an extended period of time, it is ideal for non-professionals. The staff can arrange everything, even finding you somewhere to live in private or shared accommodation. You can do a language class in the morning, a cooking class in the evening and spend the time in between sight-seeing.
The school also offers wine appreciation classes, gastronomic walking tours, excursions to cooking supply shops, meals in Florentine restaurants with a culinary expert and dinners in private Tuscan homes.
It is the only school that offers lessons in food and art. For the tourist this is wonderful value as an art expert accompanies you to museums and galleries – a real experience and immersion into the “art of living”.
The school teaches professionals as well, so you can be assured of tuition from the very best teachers in professional kitchens.
LA VECCHIA SCUILA BOLOGNESE
La Vecchia Scuola Bolognese, founded by Alessandra Spisni in 1993, is the only school in the world that trains sfoglini (pasta makers). The school’s philosophy is the “defence of Bolognese gastronomic tradition” – a cuisine which is appreciated globally, with world renowned dishes such as ragù alla bolognese.
The school offers professional and amateur courses in making fresh pasta – all types (filled, long and short), Bolognese and other traditional cuisine, bread and cakes. Alessandra is rigorous in her choice of ingredients – all local and absolutely the best quality. And of course, the classes include a tasting of the food prepared.
Alessandra also conducts demonstration classes for groups as well as providing advice for restaurants and catering services for private or business dinners.
The courses are taught by Alessandra Spisni, Alessandro Spisni, Stefania Canalicchio (Alessandra’s daughter) and other teachers.
THE AWAITING TABLE
It seems that this is the school to go to if you don’t want rigid lessons and are looking to have some fun.
Run by Silvestro Silvestori, this is still a really professional school, but with a more relaxed style of teaching. Daily trips wandering around Lecce, coffee and granita (southern Italian ice-dessert) before heading off on shopping tours make for an enjoyable way to learn to cook.
This is an ideal school for people travelling alone.
You will cook with people from many different countries and I assure you it’ll be an experience that lasts a lifetime. Based in Puglia, the school has a point of difference with this region’s unique cuisine and countryside.
The website is a great source of information on this school – it will grab your attention for at least an hour, unless you’re a speed reader.