Monday, January 23, 2012

Cooking Italian at Culinaria Cooking School

by Samantha Grieder
Capital Cooking Contributor

As DC heads straight into the depths of winter, new ideas for fun indoor activities are more welcome than ever. Here's one to add to the list: Get into a warm kitchen and learn to cook Italian from a Tuscan chef!

Chef Gina Stipo has paired with Culinaria Cooking School in Vienna, Virginia, allowing students to hone their skills or learn something new.

Stipo is the warm personality of a close family-friend. She openly admits her love for Costco and tells her students to purchase the Tuscan variety of Kirkland Signature olive oil. Stipo is sociable and talkative, the kind of person you'd sit down and have a beer with; it's easy to learn from her.

Chef Stipo cooks for her students before teaching them how to make their own pasta from scratch.

The chef has DC roots, but she's been living and cooking in Siena, Italy (Tuscany) for 12 years. There, Stipo cooks, teaches, and leads regional cooking and wine tours with her brand Ecco La Cucina. But when she's not there, she's touring the United States. And for just a while, her heart has brought her back home, where she is holding seminars and teaching classes at Culinaria.

Classes hold about 20 people. They're large enough to work in groups and get your hands dirty, but small enough that you get personal attention if you need it. Don't fear getting it right the first time. Most people are first timers, so it's a pretty safe environment to take a few risks in getting your hands dirty, literally, and jumping right in.

Fresh pasta is being rolled out by hand in one Culinaria class.

In class, she shares her recipes, tips and tricks. For example, when buying dried pasta, one should look for artisan brands that use metal dies to extrude their pastas. She'll tell you why spaghetti and meatballs isn't an actual Italian dish and why to use only two fingers when first mixing pasta dough together. And, of course, probably one of the most important cooking lessons she'll teach: you control the pasta; don't let it control you!

No matter how much or how little experience students have, classes are lighthearted and fun, a great way to spend an evening or weekend afternoon.

Whether or not the class is a seminar form or hands-on, you'll be sure to go home with a full stomach and much more knowledge than you came with. And just to make sure you don't forget what she taught, each student will go home with a packet of recipes learned in class that day.

Upcoming classes with Chef Gina Stipo:

Friday, February 24 // 7-10 pm
A Tale & Taste of Tuscany: Culinary Seminar, Demonstration & Tasting
$100 per student

  • Tuscan Kale Bruschetta
  • Tarragon Cream Crostini
  • Winter Squash & Balsamic Risotto
  • Roast Pork with Fennel
  • Jam Tart

Saturday, February 25 // 2-5 pm
Hands-On Pasta Making Cooking Class
$95 per student

  • Ricotta and Spinach Ravioli with a Butter-Sage Sauce
  • Tagliatelle with Duck-Vin Santo Ragu
  • Porcini and Three Cheese Agnolotti with Nutmeg and Butter
  • Gragnano pasta with Rapini and Cayenne

A full calendar and registration can be found here. Call Culinaria directly at 703.865.7920.

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