Italy Cooking Vacations: Chef Interview, Flavors of Rural Lazio

May 18, 2015  |  By Peg Kern
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Italy Cooking Vacations: Chef Interview, Flavors of Rural Lazio

One of The International Kitchen’s newest cooking vacations is in the countryside south of Rome, in the heart of Lazio. Read about Chef Antonella, who learned the flavors and recipes of rural Lazio from her mother and grandmother, and what she loves most about central Italian cuisine.

When did you first start cooking?Chef Antonella's grandparents

With my mother, I was 15 years old. In that time, it was the key custom that all mothers teach their daughters how to cook.

What’s your first cooking memory?

My first lesson was a simple tomato sauce, I still remember the tears in my eyes while I chopped onion and my laughter in amazement.

Where (and from whom) did you learn about cooking?

Almost all of my recipes come from my mother, which was from her mother and so on. Our cuisine is really a tradition handed down over time.

What’s your favorite ingredient or food to cook with?

There are several ingredients that I love to cook but there is one in particular that I use everywhere: Savory, the herb herb used in central Italy and known by the popular name of ”grass pepper ” because in the past centuries it substituted the expensive pepper and this is the reason why it was called “pepper for poor people.” The Romans were the first to cultivate Savory for its highly digestive and aphrodisiac qualities and they spread it in their conquered lands.

Often I love use it to flavor sauces, meats, and vegetables.

Pasta all'uovoFavorite dish to make?

I love to make “egg pasta,” especially the fettuccine and various sauces, the first is definitely the wild boar sauce.

What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to someone just starting to cook?

I recommend paying particular attention to basic recipes though seemingly simple, but they form the basis to “expand” our experiences into something more alternative and creative. And especially, if it’s possible, you have to cook every day and try, try, try … only with a constant exercise you get the great results, and this is a rule that we apply to everything.

What do you hope people gain from your cooking programs/classes?

Besides the pleasure of enjoying good food, I hope they can appreciate the cultural value of traditional recipes, and once back in their countries, they can be promoters of Italian cuisine.

Anything else you’d like to share with clients of The International Kitchen?Making fresh pasta

The thing that drove me to share cooking classes was, in addition to pass on my experiences to others, knowing that “cooking” with people of other cultures was also my personal enrichment.

Want to learn more about Chef Antonella, her family’s history, and the rustic flavors of rural Lazio? Read more about our complete cooking vacation in rural Lazio on our website, including a complete day-by-day itinerary. And of course, call us or write if you have any questions!

By Peg Kern

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By Peg Kern
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