Interview: Chef Claudio on food, our cooking vacation "A Classic Tuscan Table"
Our chefs, and their passion for cooking, are the heart of all of our vacations. In this series of blog posts, hear the chefs in their own words as they talk about their background, their love of food, and what they hope you gain from your next culinary vacation.
Chef Claudio Piantini of "A Classic Tuscan Table With Chef Claudio"
Travel to the small Tuscan countryside town of Figline Valdarno to learn from one of our favorite chefs, Chef Claudio from our Italian cooking vacation, "A Classic Tuscan Table." Both his laughter and his passion for cooking are infectious, which is just one of the many reasons people come home raving about spending time with him in the kitchen. Here Chef Claudio, in his own words, talks about his love of food and what he hopes to teach to you when you come to visit him in Italy!
When did you first start cooking? What's your first cooking memory?
I was 15 years old, and I was fascinated by my grandfather who used to cook dishes of the traditional Tuscan cuisine, requiring a long preparation and spreading an irresistible smell in the house.
Where (and from who) did you learn about cooking?
Both from my family (mother and grandpa) and from school.
What's your favorite ingredient or food to cook with? Favorite dish to make?
Garlic is definitely my favorite ingredient. I think it really is the essence of Tuscan cuisine. The recipe that challenges me the most is the chocolate wild boar.
What's the best piece of advice you'd give to someone just starting to cook?
I am not sure if it's a good piece of advice, but I always encourage wannabe chefs to cook with their heart and passion, not with their brain or following someone's else "dictat."
What do you hope people gain from your cooking programs/classes?
My aim is providing people the instruments / techniques to be able to export the Mediterranean cuisine home.
Anything else you'd like to share with clients of The International Kitchen?
You do not have to look / search for ingredients which are not in season. You can't expect to cook zucchini flowers in the winter or ribollita in the summer. Every dish or ingredient has its own season and we need to keep it always in mind. Be content with the seasonal ingredients and challenge your curiosity and creativity trying to come up with fresh ideas and using whatever you can find.
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In addition to "A Classic Tuscan Table with Chef Claudio," Claudio also leads the Tuscan cooking vacations "An Intensive Tuscan Cooking 'Stage' with Chef Claudio" and "In Terre Di Toscana." If you have questions about these or any of our programs, don't hesitate to contact us!