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!