25 Sep Cooking in Tuscany With Chicca: One Day Home Cooking Classes in Italy
At the heart of Italian culture is – of course – Italian food. That’s why one of the best cultural experiences for visitors to Italy is a cooking class. If you’re looking for one day cooking classes in Tuscany, then we have a great recommendation for you!
Cooking in Tuscany with Chicca is not only about learning how to make delicious Italian recipes, it’s also an unforgettable communal dinner experience in a real Tuscan home. We had the opportunity to volunteer for the month of September with Chicca’s home cooking classes, and we’re excited to tell you all about them!
This post will include:
- Introduction to Chicca and her Italian family recipes
- Cooking in Tuscany bike tour dinners and private class experiences
- Why we think this is one of the best cooking classes in Tuscany
- Chicca’s kitchen recommendations: her most used cooking tools and ingredients so you can authentically replicate her family recipes
Meet the Home Cook Behind Cooking in Tuscany With Chicca
A heavenly aroma of roast bell papers and garlic fills the kitchen. “Buongiorno!” Chicca welcomes you in with a big smile. Bright red tomatoes, fresh-picked green sage, bowls of flour, cutting boards, and shiny knives are neatly arranged around the room – she’s been preparing for your arrival for several hours.
Chicca is originally from Naples, Italy but has been living in Tuscany for almost twenty years. She’s not a chef and she doesn’t run a restaurant. She actually trained as an architect, then spent about 10 years biking around the world for a living!
After her daughter was born, Chicca eventually settled in Tuscany and completely renovated an old, unwanted farm house. With her connection to the cycling community and the demand for bike tours to have a local cooking experience, she found herself hosting cooking classes out of her home kitchen.
Chicca regularly cooks two meals a day, even when there aren’t any classes to teach. She grew up in a big family where eating at the table together was the norm and women were expected to cook. As a girl, she eagerly absorbed cooking skills from her aunties and nanny; many of her go-to recipes have been passed down for generations.
Her philosophy is that cooking is vital for our health because it’s the best way to control what goes into our own bodies. Ingredients matter enormously to Chicca – she buys organic, local, and in season whenever possible. Herbs and a few vegetables come from her back yard. The wine and olive oil in her pantry were produced by neighbors down the street.
The Experience: Cooking in Tuscany With Chicca
Through Chicca’s culinary association, Cooking In Tuscany, she offers different hands-on cooking experiences. The first set are for Americans on guided bicycle tours. These groups spend the week together cycling through Tuscany and get to stop at Chicca’s for one evening. She guides them through cooking their own Italian meal – from antipasti to dessert. Her goal is to promote the culture and the tradition of Italy through its local products and dishes. Each person can help contribute to the meal and then enjoy the many dishes, family-style.
The second set of Chicca’s cooking classes are for independent travelers. These are open for just 2 to 8 people, which makes a more intimate experience.
An example meal would include: antipasti like bruschetta with fresh tomatoes and burrata cheese, slices of pecorino cheese with caramelized walnuts and black pepper, hand-made tagliatelle and gnocchi, a main entree like meatballs in balsamic glaze, a side of roast bell peppers in bread crumbs, salad, almond chocolate torte for dessert, and some local wine. Guests help make the dishes alongside Chicca – chopping, needing dough, trying out the pasta machine. Along the way, Chicca likes to explain some of the surprising origins of the region’s products and answer whatever questions interest her guests.
Once those fresh pasta noodles are al dente, it’s “Pronto!” Time for everyone to enjoy the fruits of their labor. Guests sit down at the communal table – outside or in, depending on the weather – and share a leisurely meal, course by course. With participants often visiting from different countries, this is the last magic ingredient in Chicca’s cooking experiences: good company! Having bonded over a common shared experience, guests not only walk away with full stomachs but new friends as well.
How to schedule a cooking class with Chicca
Find out more about Chicca’s cooking classes and tours through the Cooking In Tuscany website. There are options to call or e-mail your request.
Directions: You’ll need to provide your own transportation to Chicca’s Tuscan farmhouse, La Casa Toscana (p.s. she also rents apartments!). It’s located on “La Strada del Vino” (The Wine Road) between the villages of Castagneto Carducci and Bolgheri.
5 Reasons these are the best cooking classes in Tuscany, Italy
1. Chicca’s warm and funny personality
2. Authentic and simple home-cooked Italian recipes passed down from the family
3. Delicious local and organic ingredients (can be adapted for vegan, gluten-free, etc. with advanced notice)
4. Cultural exchange as a welcomed guest in a true Tuscan home
5. Italian cooking advice for life (Chicca loves to stay in touch with her guests via e-mail and facebook, and by participating in a class, you’ll become a member of the Cooking In Tuscany association)
Whereas you might get more technical instruction from an official cooking school, Cooking in Tuscany with Chicca will be a more personal and memorable experience of Italian culture. We’ve heard many guests tell her: “This is the best meal we’ve had on our whole bike tour” or “We like this experience much more than the other cooking class we did at a restaurant.”
So if you’re looking for a cooking class, we definitely recommend making a stop in Castagneto Carducci to visit Chicca (and if you’re traveling independently, you can stay in one of her farm house apartments, too)!
Chicca’s Kitchen Recommendations
These are the top tools that Chicca uses on a regular basis in her home kitchen. Many guests of the cooking classes have remarked on how useful these things were, so we thought we’d gather her recommendations all in one place. There are also a few key ingredients in her most popular recipes that are not easily available outside of Italy, so we’ve also listed Amazon links to those where we could find them.
just set it and forget it. She also blends her famous chocolate almond torte in the Thermomix before baking in the oven.
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