Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Passionate Cooking in Rome

How often do you meet someone who is both passionate about their work and is truly doing what makes them happy?   In part two of my life, this is what I aspire to.  I have always been very passionate about what I do, I just have never had the opportunity to fully apply that passion to something I love.

I am on a mission to realign these two concepts in my life.    I feel very fortunate that throughout my European adventure I have met some amazing people who have inspired me in varying ways and reaffirmed my guiding principle that life is short and you should do what makes you happy.

I met one of these individuals on one of my very last days in Rome.     I was a little burnt out on sightseeing after several weeks and looking to do something a little more engaging.   I decided to take a cooking class.   Love to cook.  Love Italian food.   What better place to learn than Rome?

I figured I would enhance my technical skills, maybe learn how to make pasta from scratch.    Would have been thrilled with just this.

What I didn’t realize was that I was about to embark upon one of my favorite days of the entire trip.    Let me explain…

I signed up for Cooking Classes in Rome.   Sounds fairly generic, (yet easy to remember… smart…), but it had fantastic reviews on tripadvisor.     I don’t doubt tripadvisor.   It hasn’t failed me yet.    I had about two weeks left in Rome when I sent my inquiry.   Lucky me, there was an opening the Friday before I left.     Better late than never.

The school is held in the family restaurant, Le Fate in Trastevere.    Classes start at 11:30.   You spend the afternoon cooking together and then end the day with a late lunch, finally enjoying what you spent the day together preparing.    The classes are small, intimate.  Hands on is an understatement.   You truly work and time flies!

Together you cook a total of four courses, from appetizer through dessert.   You also have the option to pair wines with each of the courses when you sit down to eat at the end.    The whole experience is a real bargain at 50 euros.

And here’s why.  This is so much more than a cooking class.    This class was seriously fun.

Chef Andrea runs the class.   As soon as he introduced himself in the dining room, I knew we were in for a treat.    Seriously charming, extremely funny, very knowledgeable.     But the best part, he is passionate about cooking and passionate about sharing his knowledge and experience with others.    There is something special about learning from someone who loves what they do.   

I think we all agreed he could have probably been equally successful teaching us how to watch paint dry.    His passion is very engaging and motivating. 

The class moves at a rapid pace.   You work in the back kitchen and can envision yourself being a chef as you throw on your apron and work through all of the courses.     Being a small group, the interaction is one of the best parts.    Everyone chips in.   Everyone helps.    It is truly fun in a very informal cooking with all of your best friends kind of way.    Before we knew it, the cooking part was over.  

I loved Chef Andrea’s philosophy.   Italians are so in tune with their food and where it comes from and how it tastes.   There is true passion involved in cooking.   I love that.  I love that he goes to the market every morning, picks out what looks best and then makes the menu around the daily offering.    I can’t imagine a better way to live. 

I also love that throughout the class, Chef Andrea taught us the how, the steps, behind a dish, but also clearly demonstrated how important it is to cook with love.    Sometimes you just need to feel something.   If something doesn’t feel right, you add a little more or change it up a bit.  Equal parts emotion, intuition and technique.   Good stuff. 

During our class, we made some fabulous recipes.   Starting with an appetizer of Pumpkin flowers with prosciutto and mozzarella, first courses of tagliolini with fresh pachino and ricotta and tagliolini carbonara, followed by saltimbocca alla romana and a dessert of tiramisu alla fragole (strawberries).   An awesome menu and wonderful dishes.   I’ll share the recipes at a later date when I attempt to recreate them here at home.   I'm seeing a dinner party in my future!

After we spent the afternoon cooking, we all tidied up and sat down at the main table in the dining room (which is incredibly cute in a lovely Italian rustic way… whoever put it together did a great job!)   Course after course, we enjoyed the fruits of our labor.   The perfectly paired wine flowed.   Fabulous conversation. Nothing better than eating among new friends after spending the day working together.     

Truly a fun experience that I will remember for a long time.   It was actually sad leaving… I think we all felt the magic of the day and knew we had participated in something very special.  

If you are ever in Rome, without hesitation, I would highly encourage you to take a class.   It will be one of your favorite memories of your time in Italy.     You will learn a lot, meet wonderful new friends and hopefully reignite your own fire for doing what you love!     Warning you now, Chef Andrea’s passion is contagious.   Not a bad thing!



  1. I am very very hungry right now. For very very good food prepared by a very very good looking man. :)

  2. That looks SO fun!! And that was a bargain at 50 euros :). The food looked fantastic - I'm guessing you got to keep the recipes?

  3. The food looks amazing and I love seeing the pics of the cooking. I prefer eating to cooking, but I love seeing chefs in action! How I wish I could visit Rome :)

  4. Wow!! yummy!! your photographs are absolutely stunning! What type of camera do you use?

  5. ok, my mouth is seriously watering right now - perhaps I shouldn't have read this just before lunch! I've always wanted to take a cooking class in Italy or France and now I will definitely plan for that next time I'm travellling. yum! : )

  6. Wow. What an incredible experience!! I signed up for a cooking class when I was in Tuscany a few years back, but it was canceled because the chef was "too busy"! You can imagine my disappointment! We're hoping to get back to Italy one day so I just might have to see if Chef Andrea is still around!! Thanks! and thanks for some tasty eye candy!

  7. So jealous! That class sounds amazing and the food all looks sooo good

  8. what a neat story, and what a cool idea! this is something i'm definitely going to look into, if i ever end up over there again.

    ps - i love that Trastevere neighborhood. that's where stayed on our last trip to Rome, and it was amazingly quaint for such a huge city. :) and also...your photos have me STARVing now. :P

  9. Wow. I would love do that the next time I go to Rome! Are the classes conducted in English? I hope not. If so, are there classes in the native language? That would be even more awesome!

  10. Thanks all! Yummy right?

    To answer some questions...

    Sarah B - The great part about the class it that you really don't need to take notes during (you can if you want)... after class you are emailed all of the recipes that you worked on together. It is wonderful!

    Anastasia - I use a Canon Rebel XTi and I love it! I've had it for several years now... my baby and my own passion :)

    lisaroy - It is seriously a great memory from my travels. I loved it so much I tried to find something similar in Paris, but unfortunately was too late. Everything full. Highly encourage doing a little more advanced planning than I did! It is worth it.

    Christine - Yup, I think I might cry. Serious bummer. Definitely check them out when you get back. Lots of fun. I did it by myself and it was great, but I also think it would be ton of fun to do it with a group you were traveling with. Especially since you get to sit down and eat together after.

    kelli g - I know.... I love Trastevere. Such a unique part of Rome... its the one place I can truly get lost in. In fact, I did, several times :)

    Memoria - The actually do teach in English, but I'm sure if you contact Chef Andrea he might have some thoughts on conducting in italian. He may do this, I'm just not positive. I agree, that would be fun... especially for me as I am trying to learn the language!

  11. what an awesome experience! I lived in Germany for a time, but never fell in love with the food (except for the chocolate, but that's a given..). I'm hoping that I will be able to MAKE the time to take a class in either France or Italy on my next venture across the pond. Glad you could experience this! -diane

  12. P&P, I have a question: did he do the cooking while you watched, or did he explain and let you actually make the recipes? I learn best by DOING, and watching just isn't the same thing for me. However, watching Andrea wouldnt' be all that bad...

  13. Kate.. great question! I know it might look a little like Andrea is doing ALL of the cooking from my pictures, but that's only because the only time I could actually take pictures was when he was demonstrating! We actually did a ton ourselves... everyone had responsibilities. I also learn best by doing and this class was just perfect for that.

  14. Hi, was the wine pairing worth the extra €20? Sometimes you get a mouthful only! Considering going in a few weeks time

  15. John... it was definitely worth it! It was like enjoying dinner with friends in someone's home. Never really noticed an empty glass and the pairings worked very well with our courses! I do hope you had a chance to go!


Thanks so much for your comments! I love hearing from you and read each and every one!