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Jovial Culinary Getaway Spring 2019

I am back home after two weeks at the villa in Lucca, resting up after cooking for about 40 people each week, between staff, family, and guests. It can be as exhausting as it is rewarding. However, I truly enjoy having the opportunity to get to know the amazing people who travel so far to learn about baking, bread, and cooking – both with einkorn and gluten free flour. This year, we had 13 guests that ranged from ages 3 to 19, and 36 adults. I have always said that children have incredible potential in the kitchen and they often are more adept at learning than adults. So, it was no surprise that this amazing group of young people ruled the cooking classes both weeks.

On the first day of the gluten free getaway, a large van pulled up with two adults and four children. I was taken aback by the beauty and perfect manners of the girls, as they looked me in the eyes with a smile, reached out for my hand, and told me how happy they were to meet me. A little later, I watched as they entered the kitchen for refreshments, thoroughly washing their hands in the big marble sink, before helping themselves to snacks. When I mentioned to the parents how polite they were, the father said he was from the South and manners were important to his family. I then learned that these children were much more than well-mannered; they were also bright, eager to learn, and content.

The next day during pasta class, I had six children front and center at the kitchen island, focusing on every word I said and executing my instructions perfectly. They stuck with me throughout the entire three-hour pasta class, making gnudi, whole grain tagliatelle, and noodles for spring minestrone soup. The other classes were no different; they showed off their talents in the Bake Off and their focus and interest during the Bread Class. I included cinnamon buns as a recipe during class, and as they baked during dinner, they asked if they could eat them for dessert. I also made them for breakfast, not knowing how much they loved them. It was the first time one of them had ever tasted a cinnamon bun, never able to eat one before her diagnosis.

One morning, two dads of Celiac girls came down early for breakfast and we talked about how their children were diagnosed. Headaches, acid reflux, difficulty concentrating at school, moodiness, these were just some of the symptoms they, and others, described that week. For most of them, the diagnosis did not come right away, but it was through the parents’ research – their will to find an answer for their child not feeling right – that eventually led to the diagnosis. During the week, I also talked with the children and heard about their life at school and what they do about lunch. It is invaluable for me and my work to be able to get to know my customers in this way. I think it is also comforting for families with similar stories to spend time together at the villa.

Einkorn week brought a pretty special group of kids too, all very intent on learning and cooking. They were with me throughout pasta class, leading the way to delicious dishes of homemade ravioli, whole grain tagliatelle, and handmade farfalle. Their creativeness and excitement made the Bake Off unforgettable.

One day, I walked by the kitchen, and overheard Rachel reminding her son, Oakley, “Make sure you say please and thank you.” I didn’t realize Oakley had struck up a friendship with Lori’s son Marcus, and that day, he was going to town with their family for lunch. On the last day when it was time to say goodbye, I asked Marcus for a hug. He jumped up and gave me a hug, then said, “Wait, let me put my phone down so I can give you a real hug.” Then he put his arms around my waist giving me a tight embrace. Next he said goodbye to Oakley. As the two boys embraced, I took a photo and then had to excuse myself so they wouldn’t see the little tear in my eye.

I would like to congratulate the parents that attended the getaway this spring. Your children filled my heart with joy, and I admire your efforts to nurture and seek out the very best for them. It is never easy to raise a family but each of these young men and women are proof that the next generation is a good one, and we all have something to look forward to as they lead us into the future. One thing is certain, the guests that attend the jovial culinary getaway always makes me feel good about humanity.

Thanks to all who came and made this trip unforgettable. I love you all!


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