Culinary Vacation in Italy: Interview with Chef Chiara in Puglia

November 20, 2020  |  By Liz SanFilippo Hall
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Agriturismi abound in Italy, but in the heel of Italy, Puglia, they have a different word for their working farms: masserie (or the singular masseria). Both offer a true farm-to-table experience, but in Puglia, a masseria may not be as rustic and may even offer a bit of a luxury experience, all while surrounded by olive groves, gardens, and more.

At our Italy cooking vacation A Culinary Adventure in Puglia, guests stay in a charming property that is also registered as an educational farm. On this farm, members of the family lead the cooking classes, including Chef Chiara, who shares a bit about her love of cooking in our latest chef interview.

Chef Chiara in the gardenWhat is your first memory of cooking?
Me, in the hold kitchen of the masseria at 12 years old preparing a special Sunday meal for the family, included fresh pasta and desserts.

Where or from whom did you learn about cooking?
I learned from my mother and my grandmother first, and during this 20 year of activity, working with the chef of the masseria. I studied, read and researched a lot about our traditional Mediterranean cuisine, too.

What is your favorite ingredient or food to cook with?
Wheat. It is the basic food with you can transform in many different ways. Least favorite? The butter.

Dining outdoors in beautiful Puglia, ItalyWhat’s your favorite dish?
Fave e cicorie (fava beens and cicory) an ancient recipes that tells a lot about our history, our land and our tradition.

What is the best piece of advice you would give someone just starting to cook?
To choose good food, high quality ingredient. This is the secret of Mediterranean food.

Why do you like teaching cooking classes?
I really enjoy to cook with someone that else, especially from abroad, because it is always an exciting experience for me to talk through our dishes about all that there is behind the food.

Cook with Chiara in one of our favorite regions of Italy!

A buffet at a masseria in PugliaWhat’s unique about the food from your region?
High quality food and tasty and healthy dishes easy to remake at home. Behind the simple elements of the recipes lies the strength of mind, the laboriousness, the traditional patience and the cunning of our country’s people.

Anything else you’d like to share?
Have a cooking class here, in a Masseria in Apulia, is a great experience. We hope to achieve two goals with our courses: firstly, of course, for guests to master the recipes from a technical point of view. Secondly, we seek to recover and save our cultural identity.
We hope to share with guests our rich history and, also returning to the old values of a respectful partnership between man and nature.

This Puglia culinary adventure includes six nights at a lovely masseria in Brinidisi, five hands-on cooking classes, and visits to local food artisans (including wine, salami, and cheese), among so much more.

By Liz Hall

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