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La Cuoca Calabrese

"The Calabrian Cook"


We are a Calabrian-based cooking school that is taught entirely by grandmothers, or “Nonne”. The school is located in the chestnut tree-covered hills west of Cosenza, in a small village or “borgho”, called Marano Marchesato. This area occupies the very toe of the Italian boot and is an ancient land with ancient traditions. Settled since Neolithic times. Calabria has been colonized by the Greeks, the Saracens and even the Carthaginians. Each group has, over time, contributed to the wide variety of agricultural products that Calabrian is known for.


In every culture, the keepers of traditions are the most respected members…grandmothers. La Cuoca Calabrese – the Calabrian cook, the teaching cadre are grandmothers, or “Nonne Calabresi. Each brings a skill, a way of doing things, that has stood the test of time, handed down generation after generation, for hundreds, if not thousands of years.


Food and wine share this in common…each can be rather pedestrian until a story of its origins are attached. History, geology and geography combine to give life to a great appreciation for the bounty that is Calabria. We help all of our students, whether they are of Calabrian decent or not, to gain a deeper understanding of this historically important part of Italy.


A personal journey to uncover the roots of my own family’s heritage led me here.

The deep love of people and place has kept me coming back.


I first came to Italy in search for the connections between myself and my Southern Italian heritage. I was the test subject, so to speak, the prototype traveler, yearning for a penultimate cultural and culinary experience. Looking for my roots, or, “radici” and open to everything that went along with it.

After all, I am part of the vast Calabrian diaspora. My story is basically the same story as millions of other people whose bloodline begins in Calabria. I listened to the stories my grandparents told of “the old country”. Feasted at Christmas and Easter on foods you only ate once or twice a year. After I took my first breath of Calabrian air, I instantly felt like it was a homecoming. The feeling was powerful and long-lasting.

The true mission for our Calabrian-based cooking school, taught by grandmothers, is to help others walk the same path I took. I had questions about the past and what I found was a connection between myself, the people I met and the future.

Our “Nonne Calabresi” (Calabrian grandmothers) will teach you to cook traditional Calabrian recipes, tell you all about their origins, we will bring you to the vineyards, farms and specialty shops of our friends, but what we really offer is connection. The most human desire. “Come home to Calabria” isn’t just a slogan. It’s an invitation to Connect.


Joe Cairo (Director) and Marcella Scornavacca (Chef)

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