I call my classes “Cooking with Massimo” because that’s really what it’s like – a group of friendly people come to my studio and we cook together, the way Italian food is meant to be prepared.

Like my other events there’s usually a theme, like the recipes of a certain region of Italy, and last week we had two classes featuring dishes from the Southern Mediterranean. This food is special to me because my home is in Puglia, the heel of the Italian boot.

Almost everyone at this class was what I call a “virgin” to my kitchen, someone who’s never been here before. That’s a bit unusual for me and adds some pressure because I always want people to feel welcome. But it’s the kind of pressure I love, it adds to the excitement!

When guests arrived, the first thing I tried to do was make everyone feel at home and relaxed, like they were at my home, not a cooking studio. You have to be relaxed to cook Italian food, not afraid of making mistakes. Pretty soon the room was full of good energy, what I call happy confusion, and you could see people were genuinely interested in the food and enjoying the company.  

Once I have explained the dishes and everyone gets going, my job is to spend the rest of the evening giving pointers and tips as I sip my glass of vino, moving from station to station. I like this kind of work!

As always, one of the best parts of the cooking class was making homemade pasta. I tell guests that not even the best store-bought artisanal pasta can beat the flavour of fresh made pasta, and they’re amazed how easy it is to make.

Last week we prepared some fresh pappardelle and they came out just perfect. Everyone worked the dough so well, I felt like a proud papa. And when we tasted what we had created from scratch, mamma mia!

I was really impressed to see how newbies like Samantha and her sister and Esther worked the raw tuna to make involtini di tonno. I was worried this dish could be challenging but they took initiative and made it perfectly after I showed them just few tips. Che brave!

We also made some nice flourless zucchini parmigiana, a light version of the more classical dish, and the smell of it was unbelievable, not to mention the taste. And the baked branzino came out perfectly, more beautiful than the one I make myself!

Of course at the end of the meal signing the wall was a must!

Thanks to the wonderful group from last week, and everyone who has attended my classes in the past year, I truly enjoy them and look forward to many more in 2015!

To see a list of my upcoming classes, click here