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Ravello, Italy

Basic and stirring!

Basic and stirring!

Rupert Bentley-Smith

Cookery schools have become hugely prevalent alongside an explosion in popularity of all things food. These can range from a 45 minute course that’s possible to take in during a lunch hour, to detailed high end corporate evenings preparing five course Michelin Star food. In the main they are entertaining and interesting uses for what can be otherwise quite uninspiring secondary space, and can be targeted at an audience for either solo participation or at larger groups looking for a shared experience. Furthermore, they seem to be appearing across the UK in great numbers, but however strong, they struggle to compete with Mamma Agata’s in Ravello.   
Amongst the luxury hotels, high end restaurants and beautifully manicured gardens that are around every corner in Ravello, lies a cookery school that takes you straight back to basics and emphasises just how simple Italian cooking should be in a setting that is an incredible showcase of one of the world’s most beautiful coastlines. Mamma Agata spent many years cooking for the rich and famous before this venture which involves her (and her daughter) imparting her knowledge in a way that makes you feel like a cookery hero within about half an hour of being there, further fuelled by their relaxed generosity with the wine and limoncello…
It starts with coffee and lemon cake on the family's terrace overlooking the ocean and lemon groves before moving into the kitchen to watch and help with the preparation of the most remarkable meal you later eat, all from local seasonal produce, and all organically grown.  Appetizers, numerous courses and “secret” Italian cooking tricks are shared with the group from a cook who has a life of experience, but makes you feel like you are now armed with everything you need to demonstrate perfect Italian cooking.  Watching, learning, tasting (and quite a lot of drinking) fill your day as you are immersed in Italian culture in a truly moving setting, all concluding with a meal on the terrace overlooking the Amalfi Coastline.