HomeTravelThe restaurant where real Italian mothers rule the kitchen

The restaurant where real Italian mothers rule the kitchen

Editor’s Note — Forget what you assume you already know about British meals. This Sunday at 8 p.m. ET “Searching for Italy,” Stanley Tucci explores how Italian immigration has reworked the meals scene in his adopted hometown of London.

(CNN) — Like many Italians dwelling overseas, Peppe Corsaro missed his mom’s cooking.

Born in Sicily, he moved to London when he was 16, and shortly began craving for his house flavors and traditions — particularly the bustling Sunday lunch, when mothers and grandmothers cooked timeless favorites for an open-air, marathon feast that might simply spill into the night hours.

After he constructed up a profession in the restaurant enterprise, Corsaro was having fun with an evening out with associates when one jokingly steered that he ought to deliver over his mom to prepare dinner.

He took it critically.

“I said to myself, why not? So I called my mom and I asked her. She said: ‘I’ll come tomorrow.'”

That’s how La Mia Mamma started. The eatery launched as a pop-up in 2018, earlier than rising to right this moment’s pair of eating places and a deli.

Mamma’s cooking

Mamma Emilia making pasta. Each mamma spends about three months working in the restaurant.

Daniel Ogulewicz

The premise is easy: real Italian mothers and grandmothers are recruited from certainly one of Italy’s 20 areas.

They then transfer to London for a three-month residency, showcasing their very own conventional recipes primarily based round their native delicacies, earlier than handing over the chef’s hat to a brand new brigade of mammas from a distinct area.

It’s an attention-grabbing arrange, as a result of meals in Italy varies wildly relying on geography.

La Mia Mamma recruits real Italian mothers and grandmothers for residencies at its London's restaurants.

La Mia Mamma recruits real Italian mothers and grandmothers for residencies at its London’s eating places.

Giulia Verdinelli

While a lot of the meals which are usually related to Italian delicacies — lasagne, tortellini, prosciutto crudo, ragù, parmigiana — all come from the similar area, Emilia Romagna, there’s an abundance of selection and hidden gems to find elsewhere, usually in locations that will be off the crushed path for many vacationers.

At the time of writing, La Mia Mamma is specializing in Campania and Lazio, two adjoining areas on the southwest of Italy, host to Naples and Rome respectively.

Traditional recipes

A selection of dishes from Abruzzo, a relatively underrepresented cuisine from a south-eastern region on the Adriatic coast.

A choice of dishes from Abruzzo, a comparatively underrepresented delicacies from a south-eastern area on the Adriatic coast.

Giulia Verdinelli

Lazio’s delicacies has surged to the highlight lately, with such classics as carbonara, amatriciana and cacio e pepe, a deceptively easy pasta dish, manufactured from simply 4 components, that’s really certainly one of the hardest to make attributable to its delicate course of.

But the area’s “cucina popolare,” or consolation meals, additionally consists of lesser-known delicacies similar to coda alla vaccinara, an oxtail stew that is not simple to search out exterior of Lazio itself.

Each restaurant has three mammas, who’re first screened in Italy by social media.

“We’re not looking for professional chefs, but housewives who cook for their families,” says Corsaro, including that the chosen candidates are then flown to London for a trial, after which they’re given lodging, a transportation card and a wage, corresponding to that of a sous chef.

Most of the mammas, who’re normally of their sixties and sometimes retired, have by no means lived overseas earlier than.

They all deliver their very own recipes, and work to make sure that they’re executed to perfection, with the assist of skilled kitchen workers.

Three-month residencies

A view of one of the restaurants. Both are located in Chelsea, London.

A view of certainly one of the eating places. Both are positioned in Chelsea, London.

Daniel Ogulewicz

Their presence just isn’t restricted to the menu; the kitchens are seen from the avenue, so passersby can catch a glimpse of the mammas at work, they usually’re completely satisfied to mingle with patrons.

“You see them everywhere. They’re always around, making people try whatever they’ve been cooking. They will even dance with the guests,” says Corsaro.

The venues are all positioned in the London Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, where Italians are certainly one of the largest international resident teams and contributed the largest number of latest residents in the years proper earlier than the Brexit referendum in 2016.

So far, no mamma has ever been rejected after the trial, they usually’ve all tailored properly to London metropolis life, albeit with some changes.


Corsaro together with his mom Anna Famà, left, the authentic ‘mamma,’ and Mamma Sara.

La Mia Mamma

“They always tell me the city is too big, they’re not used to being on the road for an hour to get somewhere, so we have to find them lodgings close to the restaurants,” says Anna Famà, Corsaro’s mom, and the authentic mamma.

After her stint, she determined to remain, and now acts as an envoy for incoming mammas, serving to them to settle in.

“It never happened that a mamma left happy to leave, and those who have gone often ask me when they can come back,” says Famà, including that though cooking for 200 folks can get hectic, there may be all the time a relaxed environment in the kitchen.

“If something goes wrong, we can always fix it,” she says. “For me, this is not a job, it’s my home. I hope I’m transmitting that to the mammas.”



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