Interview with Chef Stefano of our Bologna Cooking Vacation

November 17, 2020  |  By Liz SanFilippo Hall
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Even Italians who aren’t from Emilia Romagna often find themselves saying that this Italian region – known for its charcuterie, bread, and so much more — has the best cuisine in all of Italy, which you can experience on our Bologna cooking vacation. In other words, if you’re a foodie, then Emilia-Romagna should be at the top of your bucket list. But don’t just take our word for it; Chef Stefano of our Foodie Experience in Bologna cooking vacation loves talking about cooking and food, and what it means to him. In The International Kitchen’s latest chef interview, he shares more about his philosophy, teaching style, and more.

Food plating in Emilia RomagnaWhat is your philosophy about cooking?
Although most of the people cook alone, I believe that cooking must be a shared experience. When I am cooking or eating with people I feel happy because it is a way of sharing everything. I am sharing my time, my experience and my knowledge and that is very gratifying. Time spent with good food and good people adds to the quality of our life.

What is your favorite dish to make or eat? I really don’t have a particular favorite dish to create or eat. A dish should always be made from scratch, with the freshest seasonal ingredients. It should be simple, healthy, not prepared with too many ingredients. Everybody should be able to recognize what ingredients it’s made with, or at least, most of them. Food provides comfort and enjoyment and we all should respect and consider it as a “gift.”

Gnocchi cooking class What is your style of teaching?
My job is to question and then to listen. I view myself as more of a facilitator, imparting knowledge, answering questions and coming up with a plan of what to prepare for a meal but always starting from the student/cook taste and preference. Due to this, every dish is always different as it reflects the cook’s touch. I guess this is the most important part of what I teach. My students are “guests” and they learn by doing.  I am not like many egomaniacal chefs that feel they are the artists and everyone should just WRITE down their recipes and blindly follow like sheep. No, rather in the end it is the people, the customers, the guests that determine what is good to eat.  Of course, my job is to teach skills and impart knowledge about specific ingredients and how to combine, mix or blend those ingredients into a wholesome, flavorful dish. But always starting from the people’s taste. As we say at our cooking school, “We don’t teach recipes, you learn techniques!”

Emilia Romagna cooking classWhat is the goal of your classes?
Our wish is to work together, have fun, learn cooking skills, breaking bread together, socialize and  sharing quality time together. The goal is for our students to leave with the knowledge that they can return home to wherever they live and duplicate what they made at the school.  When our students return home they use the techniques they learned at the cooking school to adapt ingredients and can generalize what they learned to create new dishes.

Chef Stefano is one of the teachers at the cooking school, where guests take a full-day course at a cooking institute in Bologna during our Foodie Experience in Bologna culinary vacation. All the chefs here have some wonderful wisdom to impart, no matter what the skill level of the students.

As this vacation is only 2 nights long, it’s the perfect capstone on your trip to Italy, and we’re happy to help with other hotel accommodations, activities, and tours.

Learn more about all of our culinary tours.

By Liz Hall

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