Interview: Chef Silvia talks about her Tuscan cooking vacation
Our chefs, and their passion for cooking, are the heart of all of our cooking 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.
There's no better way to discover the secrets of Tuscan cuisine than through hands-on cooking classes in a 1-star Michelin restaurant in Italy. The beautiful landscape just outside Cortona may draw people to the area, but the delicious food and your welcoming host, Chef Silvia, will be why its hard to leave. In this chef interview, Silvia recounts some of her favorite memories with food, as well as what she hopes you'll learn when you come to visit her during her program, "Cook Under The Tuscan Sun."
When did you first start cooking classes and vacations? What's your first cooking memory?
I started many years ago, 1998, and I remember the first group. After one week together everybody, including myself started to cry at the departure, we are still in contact with them.
Where (and from who) did you learn about cooking?
I grew up in a family with love and passion for the cuisine, of course my grandmother and my mom introduced myself in the world of cooking. We owned a small inn, and there the cuisine was traditional and full of old family recipes. My grandmother with a lot of patience involved me to cook the most simple dishes as well as cakes, tiramisu, crostini and many others easy for a child. Yes I started to cook when I was just 8/9 years old! Immediately my fantasy came out, and I decided to buy some recipe books, my favorite was the Pellaprat, not easy but many years ago there wasn’t many choices. Most of them were about classic cuisine.
What's your favorite ingredient or food to cook with? Favorite dish to make?
In Italy of course pasta is the queen of the our cuisine, but I love to cook almost everything using my fantasy to make something new and special. I like very much cook game dishes, because there is in Tuscany a great tradition so I can cook in may ways wild boar, pheasant, hare, woodcock, wild pigeons and more.
What's the best piece of advice you'd give to someone just starting to cook?
Using fresh seasonal ingredients; this is the 80% reason for the success of the recipe. Again fantasy can help a lot to create a nice dinner sometime with just few ingredients. For a “chef” who wants to try some Italian recipes, be sure to have in the kitchen a very good extra virgin olive oil.
What do you hope people gain from your cooking vacation?
Safety and juggling inside the kitchen, confidence with tools and the most important: falling in love with cooking.
Anything else you'd like to share with clients of The International Kitchen?
The most important thing is to cook with passion and with the desire to make happy your friends and family. Any time you dedicate a meal to friends and family is usually satisfying especially if you have fun during your performance.
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During the "Cook Under The Tuscan Sun" six-night cooking vacation, take part in four cooking classes, visit wineries, enjoy a Thesan Etruscan spa, and visit inspiring towns like Cortona and Pienza.