If you are looking for an authentic Italian food experience, skip the restaurants and markets in Rome and head straight to the mountaintop town of Ravello. There you’ll find Mamma Agata’s cooking school, started by Mamma Agata, who has passed family recipes down to her children, grandchildren, and now you.
Mamma is an Amalfi Coast legend, having cooked for celebrities like Jackie Kennedy, Fred Astaire, Elizabeth Taylor, and Humphrey Bogart. Today, you might even catch Pierce Bronsan or Mark Ruffalo in her kitchen.
This full day cooking class is the food experience of a lifetime. Accordingly, we recommend that you do not eat anything before or plan to eat dinner after. Mamma Agata’s house is located a short walk from downtown Ravello, and has been in their family for 250 years. Getting there is an easy downhill walk, but that means the return trip is all uphill (mostly on stairs).
This experience is truly a family affair. Mamma’s daughter, Chiara, will guide you through the day with endless cooking tips and hilarious stories. She makes you feel right at home.
Mamma cooks with her in the morning, making her delicious eggplant parmesan, and then her son-in-law Gennaro, takes over the cooking in the afternoon. He’s been cooking with Mamma for over 20 years and is a professionally trained chef, winemaker, sommelier, and certified cheese and olive oil taster.
Between shifts in the kitchen, students at Mamma Agata’s get to eat! All the food is served outside on Mamma Agata’s patio, a thousand feet over the Mediterranean sea, with panoramic views of the Amalfi Coast.
In Mamma Agata’s kitchen, you’ll learn by seeing, tasting, and smelling all of the ingredients for all of the dishes. It’s very important to taste the quality of ingredients in order to appreciate how each ingredient contributes to the finished dish. One example is the tomato puree for the pasta sauce. The family grows their own tomatoes, and the school closes during the month of August to harvest and can thousands of bottles of tomatoes. Harvested at the peak of ripeness, these are the best tomatoes we’ve ever tasted! You can order the tomatoes and other amazing ingredients directly from their website. Some of our our other favorite food items from Mamma Agata’s farm include their Red Hell (pepper spread), salt-packed capers, and pasta.
One staple that we learned from Mamma Agata’s and make all the time is this basic salsa pomodoro (tomato sauce). It’s the base for many of the other dishes. As we learned, it’s critical to use the best tasting tomatoes you can find. The flavor carries over to the finished sauce. Chiara recommends you always taste the jarred tomatoes before you use them, and if they don’t taste good, find new ones! (or order a case of their tomatoes).
During your day at the cooking school, you’ll eat eggplant parmesan, pappardelle with sausage and peppers, farmer’s pasta, fritters, and lemon chicken. They’ve also recently added a new dish, a southern Italian-style bolognese, from the forthcoming second cookbook (planned to be released in 2020).
We’re getting a very limited number of Mamma Agata’s cookbooks shipped directly from Italy. Get your copy here.
Get Recipe: Mamma Agata’s Tomato Sauce