Feedback from students attending Cucina Della Terra:
Buon Giorno Gerri and Jack!!
We are home in NY and missing our days in Italy every moment!! We know you have a little more than one week remaining before you return to the U.S. We hope you make the most of your time in that very special place. We now understand why it means so much to you. We came home with over 2,000 photos and managed to parse them down to about 1,300. We then further selected approximately 300 for a manageable slide show presentation to expose friends and family to (and hope they don’t succumb to boredom). Here is one of our favorite photos with you from our week at Cucina della Terra!
We must tell you that since our return we have had the opportunity to continue practicing our cooking and baking skills. We have already duplicated several of the recipes we learned with you. We had our friends/neighbors over and prepared bruschette, wild boar salami with pecorino cheese, and black olives. This was followed by wild boar ragu over fresh papparadelle accompanied by sautéed chard. For dessert we made biscotti and olive oil cake along with vanilla gelato (of course)! Last night we had clams (with sundried tomatoes & black olives) over haddock prepared like the branzino. Tonight we enjoyed roasted beets, sautéed greens of beets, along with chicken and Herbs de Provence served with a wonderful salad of Boston lettuce, walnuts, goat cheese, diced beets, and a balsamic dressing. We’ve always had fun in the kitchen but things are even more spectacular since attending your extraordinary school, Cucina della Terra!
We cannot adequately thank you for a most amazing and unforgettable experience. We keep talking about he many “special” opportunities we were afforded and the many “up close and personal” tours we were privileged to experience. Romitorio was perfect and Rita was a wonderful hostess. Fabio was a safe, kind, and always punctual driver. Each tour gave us something meaningful and we came away having gained significant knowledge about so much. Your attention to detail was always apparent and we are very appreciative of what the immersion course gave us. Please do not ever overlook the reality that you two really do make the course what it is. Some unknown persons could attempt to duplicate your idea and/or itinerary however without your distinct personalities and the terrific dynamic between you, it would simply be an imitation. Your successful recipe has everything to do with your ingredients! Without you, it would be like forgetting the olive oil, serving cheddar instead of pecorino, drinking Carlo Rossi instead of Nobile di Montepulciano, or just skipping the gelato! The point is, you ARE Cucina della Terra and you have found a recipe for success! We are fortunate to have been your students and even more fortunate to consider you friends! Our time in Italy was grand and we are grateful for having spent part of it with you.
Thank you and best regards!
Ciao for now…
Kimber & Chuck
“…my whole experience with Cucina was truly wonderful…This was not my first trip to Italy, but if it had been, I would have been lucky.
Gerri’s travelling itinerary combined with the cooking time was incredible. We were driven to small hill towns and cities usually in the morning after breakfast to either sightsee, shop or attend a cheese making facility or winery that would include tours, etc and lunch. Then that evening we would cook incredible meals and all eat together.I didn’ t want to return home…I gained terrific memories along with much more honed cooking skills and new recipes. My family is enjoying those.”
Anne K, New York
Hello Gerri and Jack,
I am finally settled in and just wanted to once again thank you both for the most amazing experience ever. There really are no words to describe what a special time we had. The two of you went above and beyond what any of us expected and this trip could never be replicated by anybody else. Most of us have already met in NY in different occasions and the two if you are always the main topic of conversation ( including the need for a higher price increase than you did).
There has been risotto at Lisa’s, truffle paste by me and the next event is gnocchi making at my place when the group is available (very soon). I don’t even need mention dining out at the local Italian places together with Ginger and Graham.
See ya’ all soon.
We had an outstanding experience during our week at Cucina Della Terra. The program was the centerpiece of our Italy vacation, following our time in Venice and Florence, and preceding Rome. It was the perfect combination of cultural immersion (touring several architecturally beautiful cities in Tuscany and Umbria; exploring the olive harvest, wine and cheese making, and truffle hunting) and learning new cooking skills, techniques and recipes. Chefs Gerri and Jack were most generous, sharing not only their exquisite cooking kitchen with us, but also their time, experience, love of cooking, fine wines, and knowledge of and love for Italy with us. Every meal we ate was excellent, rich in flavor, varied in content, pushing us beyond what we knew and with which we were comfortable, to new culinary heights. It was the experience of a lifetime.Wanda & Anthony***
I just wanted to thank you and Jack for everything you two did to make Rebecca and me comfortable. We had an absolutely fabulous time; we both learned a lot of new techniques and had fun. I must admit I was a bit intimidated at first when I realized that the majority of the class was trained pastry chefs but everyone was so nice to us and so anxious to help us that I was able to relax and enjoy the experience. Again, thanks so much. I hope by the time you fly home on Sunday things are back to normal at the New York airports.
- Marilyn, Bethesda MA
“…After comparing your program to others on the Internet and then experiencing this trip to Cucina Della Terra, there was a whole lot more value than I was expecting! The multidimensional aspect was so great—your program is so much more in addition to the cooking. You should be very proud of your efforts for you are clearly executing extremely well on your vision.”
“I wanted to tell you what a wonderful experience your cooking school was for us. RoseMarie and I wanted to join you for one of your classes in Umbria ever since you told us about your school after our pizza course with you at ICE. Your school was so much more than we expected. The well-planned program—combining touring, cooking and eating—gave us an exciting and fulfilling experience. It was just the right mix at just the right pace. The day tours gave us a wonderful sense of Umbria—the food, the wine, the historic hill towns, and the incredible panoramic vistas. Even our lunches helped us experience the diversity of the eating experience of the area as we began to understand the culinary culture of Umbria.
However, the highlight of the week was the cooking experience at the cucina. Not only did we get to eat foods we had never had before (rabbit, rooster, etc), but I even learned some knife skills! And I am going to buy a pasta machine! The cooking was serious but done in a friendly and fun manner. We had a good congenial group and everyone helped each other and pitched in whatever the task. And the reward of good local wine was something we all looked forward to. By the time dinner was ready, rather than being tired, our group was anxious to sit down to good conversation and camaraderie. And all of this was in large part due to your and Jack’s management of our group.
But by far the highlights of the tour were you and Jack. Not only did you plan a well-designed experience for us, but your excitement, energy, and sense of humor was contagious. Sometimes I thought while we were cooking dinner that we would never get it all done, but you moved from table to table keeping us going and giving us instruction with the result that everything came together and in time with no arguments, hurt feelings or sulking (all of which I think can be frequently present in a kitchen with so many “chefs”). Recognizing our different skill levels, you and Jack worked with each of us with both a seriousness to prepare the food well but also with light-hearted encouragement. More importantly we felt that we were guests in your home and your kitchen (which indeed we were) and that you not only welcomed us but that your interest in us went beyond making sure we had a good experience.
Gerri, thank you and Jack for a memorable experience.”
– Phil, MA
“The Cucina Della Terra trip in Umbria was one amazing experience. We did everything from picking olives to trying five to six courses for dinner. The cooking part of the trip was fun as well; we broke down rabbits, quail, rooster, lamb racks, and picked various herbs from the garden in the back for the meal that was going to be served. The best part of the whole trip was sitting down at the dinner table at the end of the day chatting with friends, eating, and drinking wonderful Umbrian wines. I learned how to do so many things on this trip and I have Chef Jack and Chef Gerri to thank for that. As a recent graduate from ICE I recommend the trip to anyone who has the love and passion for food.”
- Spiro P, Brooklyn, NY
“Having parents born in Italy, I’ve been traveling throughout Italy all my life whether for family events, pizza competitions, or touring Italy in general. Having been on numerous tours and courses throughout Italy, I was hesitant in taking another. I thought I’d seen it all. Cucina Della Terra proved me wrong. There hasn’t been a more precise, intuitive, and more organized trip. Artisans in cheese making, fresh pasta making, wine making and so forth, were carefully picked by the hands of Chef Gerri & Chef Jack. It was clearly obvious that this course truly defines the heart and soul of Italy. This was by far the best course I have ever taken in my life. If I can, I would take it again just to make sure I didn’t miss anything the first time. It was great to be with people who are passionate about food the way I am. Cucina della Terra = Truly Remarkable & Unforgettable.
- Giorgio G, Staten Island, NY
From the moment we arrived at Cucina della Terra we felt well cared for, everything was organized down to the smallest detail for our comfort and pleasure and they were sensitive to individual needs.
We stayed in a charming, small, family run hotel with beautiful grounds where the proprietor’s mother made a delicious breakfast for us each morning. I am still trying to duplicate her moist and tender scrambled eggs.
Both the daily excursions and the cooking classes were also well planned but there was also room for flexibility and spontaneity according to the desires of the participants. This was a real plus. For example, we had the good fortune of being offered an opportunity to get up early one morning and go in search of truffles with a professional truffle hunter and his two dogs. It was great fun and quite unexpected and we even found a few truffles.
When we toured Umbria we were transported in a comfortable van and escorted by licensed guides, hand picked by Gerri, who were both knowledgeable and full of personality– they were terrific. But the real bonus, was that Gerri or Jack (her partner and a chef, as well) always came along on the outings looking after things and enhancing our experiences by sharing their knowledge plus they were a lot of fun to be with.
The cooking facility of Cucina della Terra is a new modern professional kitchen designed specifically for teaching with multi prep area, sinks, stoves ovens etc.. There’s plenty of room to work and they have the latest cooking gadgets, that we are determined to acquire.
When it comes to to the cooking instruction Gerri and Jack make the perfect team. THEY CARED THAT YOU GOT IT RIGHT. We have had other experiences where once you have your cooking assignment you are on your own unless you request help and then you have to wait your turn because invariably the teacher would be busy with another student. NOT HERE. The chefs are right with you, helping you perfect your technique, and making sure you understand the fundamentals, all with a light hearted spirit and plenty of laughs. I think that we were offered FINE wine as soon as we entered class and having it available throughout the evening added to our relaxed, jovial mood.
The recipes were formulated in such a way as to give us a full range of instruction in various techniques from fresh pasta making to pastry making and everything in between and they are recipes that we were easily able to replicate back home. Each session we cooked many dishes, there was not only an abundance of food, but the ingredients were of the highest quality and often quite expensive. When a meal was hosted in a restaurant the same generosity prevailed.
We have been to two other cooking schools in Italy and others around the world and CUCINA della TERRA far surpasses any of our other experiences. Their warmth and generosity permeates everything they do. WE WERE MADE TO FEEL LIKE FAMILY. We cannot rave enough. It was one of the best week’s of our lives, it was over the top fabulous.
With much sincerity,
Susan and Paul, NYC
Just wanted to take a moment to thank you for such a wonderful experience this summer. I had two dinner parties this week and have thoroughly enjoyed trying out my new cooking skills! I took it as a great compliment when my friend scooped the meat sauce onto a piece of bread and started licking her lips!!!!
In any case, I wanted you to know that I really enjoyed the touring and the school. It was wonderful to share a week with people who have passion for what they do. There is nothing that builds a sense of community more than making and sharing food around the table, regardless of what culture you are a part of. I hope you have continued success with the program because it really is a special kind of vacation…
- Debi B, Beechurst , New York.
“Before I went to Cucina della Terra I had very little cooking experience and was a bit nervous my first time in a cooking school. But in Chef Gerri’s relaxed atmosphere with hands on help, I learned to cook Italian and left with confidence. I now know how to do lots more than just boil water for pasta!! In the daily local Umbrian trips we took, I saw where the raw materials come from that we later cooked into delicious meals. I recommend Cucina dellla Terra for an intense, fun cooking time in the beautiful Umbrian countryside…..”
- Doris S, NYC
I’m honored to have been part of a very private and outstanding culinary experience. The spirit of Gerry is about to link food & culture in many details while preparing the dish in the kitchen. Long life to CDT!” …….
- Philip , Vancouver, BC
“You two certainly out did yourself with the launching of Cucina della Terra. My emotional cup runneth over when I look at our pictures and start to share with friends and family our Umbrian experience. Just when my cooking seemed dull and boring I am awakened by your recipes and new skills in the cucina. My family thanks you…I have already made several recipes and I am in constant search for the right fruits & vegetables. I was able to buy fresh zucchini , swiss chard, small tomatoes and onions at the farmers market this week… “
- Dawn V, Knoxville, Tenn.
“Since graduating from the Institute of Culinary Education in 2005, I’ve kept in touch with my former teacher Chef Gerri Sarnataro. The first day I met Chef Gerri she talked about opening her own cooking school in Italy. Well, 2008 turned out to be the year it finally came to life and I was blessed enough to be apart of the first tour in June. I went to Italy with no expectations, just knowing that I was going to increase my repertoire of Italian cuisine and enjoy Italy’s country side. It was certainly more than anything I could have imaged; hands-on cooking classes (in English), truffle hunts, olive oil tastings and sightseeing. Classes are small (15 max) and everything is included from meals & accommodations to your wine. Not only do you visit five different villages in Tuscany, but you have a personal tour guide at each stop. I haven’t even talked about the classes, which are incredible…”
- Rachel B, NYC