Learning True Italian Cooking

Jo McGarry
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Friday - January 12, 2007
| Del.icio.us | podcast Podcast | WineAndDineHawaii.com

Chef Donato Loperfido
Chef Donato Loperfido

If any of your resolutions this coming year involve perfecting your cooking skills, learning more about food or just committing to making simple meals at home, then here are two great places to start. The theme is Italian - fortuitous because apparently when we get out the cookbooks at home, it’s the taste of Italy that we want to emulate.

Donato Loperfido has long considered himself the ambassador of all things truly Italian in Hawaii. Show him a plate of pasta and meatballs in a gooey red sauce and he will likely show you the door. Offer the idea that spaghetti bolognese is a traditional dish from his homeland, and he will look at you like ... oh, just trust me, you’ll understand the look when you see it.

“People don’t really know or understand true Italian cooking in Hawaii,” says the passionate, opinionated and incredibly talented chef. “With my ‘Flavors of Italy’ and now these cooking classes, I want to show people a true taste of my country.”

Foodies have long clamored to attend Donato’s cooking classes. Like any wonderful Italian meal, they last for hours, involve a great deal of conversation, several glasses of wine and incredible food. Donato used to hold the occasional class at his eponymous Manoa restaurant, and I could never get to one. I’d enthuse about them on the radio, and by the time I got around to calling Donato they’d always be full.

This time around it may be even harder to get a seat at the kitchen table.

“My classes will be taught from a home in Diamond Head,” he says, “because I want to show people how to cook at home - not to teach them in a commercial kitchen where they feel that they can’t achieve what a chef does.”

Classes are limited to eight people, will take place Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., with lunch served at the end of each class.

“I will show people how to make the classic dishes of my region and of other regions in Italy,” says Donato, “and then give them the recipes to go home and do it themselves.”

Sourcing the right ingredients shouldn’t be a problem either. Donato spent much of last year picking the best producers of wine, cheese, olive oil and other gourmet products from the 20 regions of Italy. Most of them are now available in Hawaii. To sign up for classes and to find out more about Donato’s products or how to travel to Italy with him, go to http://www.flavorsofitalydop.com

And there might still be time to catch one of America’s most-respected authorities on Italian food and cooking as Lynne Rossetto Kasper comes to town this weekend. She’ll be lecturing on the history of Italian food and food traditions at The Halekulani this coming Sunday from 4 to 6 p.m. For $75 per person, guests will enjoy an interactive lecture and slideshow presentation, a food and wine reception and will each receive a copy of her award-winning book, The Splendid Table: Recipes from Emilia-Romagna, the Heartland of Northern Italian Food (worth the price of admission as it is sold out at Borders and Barnes and Noble). For 10 years, Kasper researched the region of EmiliaRomagna, widely known for producing three of the country’s world-class foods: ParmigianoReggiano cheese, Prosciutto di Parma and true balsamic vinegar aged for decades and sipped as a liqueur. I had the opportunity to chat with Lynne earlier in the week and she is as enthusiastic and refreshingly passionate about food as anyone I’ve ever met. If you truly want a memorable experience, call and make a reservation, if you can. 931-5040. Mangiamo!

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