Sometimes you meet someone and you feel like they are family. This is how Chiara Lima and her husband, Sommelier, Gennaro Petti from the Mamma Agata cooking school on the Amalfi Coast make you feel upon meeting them. Within two minutes you feel like you are at home with your family (a good Italian one) making dinner with a focus on simple, expressive and genuine flavors. Chiara’s “Mamma” has been cooking since she was 8, and now at 70 has cooked for everyone from Humphrey Bogart and Elizabeth Taylor to Pierce Brosnan and Woody Harrelson.
Chiara has recently published a book of some of the favorite recipes from her mother that they teach at the cooking school, Mamma Agata, Traditional Italian Recipes of a Family that Cooks with Love and Passion in a Simple and Genuine Way. Today Chiara and Gennero were at Poggenpohl in the Design District making a few recipes from the book, including one of Jaqueline Kennedy’s favorites from her visit to the Amalfi Coast in 1962, Spaghetti del contadino (Farmer’s Spaghetti.)
A 10 minute recipe bursting with bright tomato and parsley, with salty capers and olives finished with fragrant olive oil and arugula. Isn’t it great that a recipe from 1962 can still taste so good today. When you cook with the fresh ingredients, simply with love and passion the flavors will last a lifetime, the genuine sentiment expressed by Chiara as she describes her food philosophy.
The pasta was perfectly paired with an Inama Soave, a white wine I have written about a few times from the Veneto region of Italy that balanced the acidity of the tomatoes and the silky oil well.
With approachable recipes like this, and wine to match, it is easy to see why the cooking school is such a hit for the couple, and why her book has become a quick success. (There is even a recipe for Limoncello.)
Want to see what I am talking about? Chiara and Gennero will be at Central Market in Plano tonight with a cooking demonstration at 6:30 (the event is on a wait list…but a spot may open up); or you can meet Chiara tomorrow at Sacks Fifth Avenue in The Galleria tomorrow at 11am.