One of my favorite foodie experiences during my Argentine sojourn was the Puertas Cerradas - or ’Closed Door Dining.’ Essentially, it’s a hidden restaurant run out of someone’s home. Less than a dozen diners gather in someone’s living room as the host chefs cook for you in their home kitchen.
No idea if it’s global or not, but there was a lot of it in Buenos Aires and it was awesome. I never thought I’d have such an experience again.
But, my recent evening in the North End in the home kitchen of Fuel for the Soul came awfully damn close.
Fuel for the Soul is truly a labor of love by Chef Titti Lancedelli and Joel Marx.In their own words, “The biz partnership features Tiziana “Titti” Lancedelli as the master chef, recipe maestro, demo queen & cooking class guru, while Joel Marx is the business maven, scribe, chief dishwasher, food peddler & overall slave-at-large.”
Relatively new Idahoans, they started as a retail gourmet prepared food company featuring gluten free items like Bureks & Crostata d’Italia. Fuel for the Soul has now expanded to offer regular cooking classes. “Through our monthly cooking classes, we also seek to equip you with the knowledge on how to eat fresher& healthier at home. Whether you’re a total spaz in the kitchen or a true gourmand chef, our series of classes specifically targeted to kids or adults can definitely broaden your culinary horizons. Hop on board as we tour a vast world of edible delights.”
In a lovely coincidence, a colleague’s wife had just signed up for a class and they forwarded me the class lineup for August - a virtual tour de delicioso of Italian cuisine thanks to Chef Titti’s Italian roots. (She’s also spent time in Southeast Asia – hence the Thai classes). I had to sign my Mom, sister and I up for the Bistro di Italia: Simple classic dishes fit for your own personal backyard bistro. Quick, healthy, substantial dishes begging to be eaten Al Fresco and of course accompanied by a chilled Pinot Grigio or a bold Spanish Rose.
Titti’s casual ease in the kitchen, endearing candor and approachable teaching style made the class a lovely and fun evening. No pretention and like I prefer – not a lot of strict recipe rules. More along the lines of teaching attendees to become intuitive chefs. Reminiscent of how my grandmother cooked – ingredients, instinct and ‘to taste’.
And the other half of Fuel for the Soul – Joel – acts as resident sommelier and sous chef for the class, regaling students with tasting notes for each selection.
So – to get down to it, the amazing menu for our Bistro class.
1st Course: Orecchiette ai Funghi
Orecchiette Pasta with Creamy Mushroom Sauce
2nd Course: Pesce alla Catalana
White Fish Steamed, then Chilled and Dressed with Olives, Basil & Sweet Onions
3rd Course: Frittelle di Zucchine
Fried Zucchini Fritters Made with Grated Zucchini, Parmesan Cheese, Ricotta Cheese, Bread Crumbs & Fresh Herbs
Dessert: Torta Mandorlata
Sicilian Tarte with Ricotta Cheese & Almond Filling
Simple. Straightforward. Amazing. A cooking class you thoroughly enjoy from start to finish, and then realize when you get home, ‘Hey, I can really make this!’
In the wake of the unfortunate demise of many of the cooking classes in the Valley, Fuel for the Soul is a welcome upstart. Beyond that, it is a dynamic and enjoyable new foodie and cultural experience for the Valley. The couple genuinely believes in building friendships through the communal experience of breaking bread in the warmth of their beautiful North End home.
A tavola non si invecchia!