I was fortunate to enjoy a True Italian Cooking Class with the renowned Chef Lapo and his Mother in Observatory, Cape Town. Here’s what happened:
For me, being a foodie started at a young age. I vividly remember making my mom scrabbled eggs with sprinkles, pretending I was on the cooking channel as I served my ‘restaurant guests.’ Since then, I have become what people refer to as a foodie, an amateur chef and avid food reviewer.
Last year during my trip to Florence, I spent a night at a cooking class. We made pasta and ate it, along with some gelato round a table. This year, my family gifted me with a cooking class here in Cape Town, from the heart of Florence. Chef Lapo is an Italian who visited South Africa and never left, who often hosts Long Table dinner experiences — much like a private restaurant, with a 5 course meal. This cook-along instalment included his mother, who was visiting him from Italy.
Chef Lapo uses fresh, seasonal ingredients, so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect on the night. I arrived with a bottle of wine in hand. Being ten minutes late, my entrance was grand and I was met by welcoming hosts and 11 other friendly faces, who were just as eager as I was to be there.
No time was wasted. We got stuck in to our three course meal: Tagliatelle with wild mushroom sauce, line fish with Sicilian-style sun-dried tomatoes and roasted potatoes and a Florentinian custard (or the better sounding Creama Pasticcera). This was a cooking class like no other: I genuinely learnt things I didn’t know before, like when you bake, you should always stir in the same direction, or that pasta dough can be modified to take more egg yolks, for a richer bite.
More than cook, Chef Lapo discussed the importance of using fresh, sustainable produce. He made mention of Abalobi, an App that connects you to local fisherman for the ‘catch of the day,’ and using salt from the Karoo. Then he started to sound like my mother, talking about the importance of using stone-ground flour and cold-extracted olive oil, all of which are readily available at supermarkets.
Mama Lapo spoke in Italian and her son translated her words into English. Something about her made the whole experience authentic, and seeing her interactions with Chef Lapo reminded me what it was like to be back in Italy, and indeed in an Italian household, for the “alora’s” to the “basta’s.”
Once most of the cooking was complete, we each took a seat at the long table, awaiting the three courses. The table was filled with chatter, as we learnt about one another — I met an ex-buyer who told me what it was like to be a buyer back in the day, a couple who were well-travelled and settling into retirement and others who had travelled far to enjoy the experience.
This cooking class reminded me why I love cooking and Italian culture. More than that, I sat at the table (savouring every bite), reminiscing about my travels through Italy last year, so happy not only to have had the experience, but to have travelled the way that I did.
- Book Chef Lapo’s Kitchen Long Table Experience