'Mamma Agata' Cookbook

November 29, 2010 9:57:25 AM PST
The hit movie ''Eat Pray Love'' has revived interest in authentic Italian cooking and Italian chefs.

One of Italy's best-loved and well-known chefs is "Mamma Agata" Lima, who founded a cooking school on the Amalfi Coast. She began cooking for her family when she was eight years old and was taught family recipes and "secrets" by her mother and grandmother. Starting as a teenage chef at the renown Villa Chivita resort in Italy, Mamma Agata cooked for Jacqueline Kennedy, Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, Fred Astaire, Sophia Loren and Frank Sinatra. More recently at her Hidden Treasure Cooking School, mamaagata, Mamma Agata has shared her kitchen with actors Pierce Brosnan and Woody Harrelson and NFL star Kurt Warner.

Now the chef is unveiling her family's own traditional Italian recipes to in a new cookbook Mamma Agata written by her daughter Chiara. Designed to highlight the fresh ingredients prevalent in Southern Italy, their recipes utilize easy and accessible ingredients; the cookbook also showcases the authenticity, charm and warm family-vibe of Mamma Agata and the cooking school.

Chiara, the author and narrator of the cookbook, is Agata's youngest daughter and has taken over her mother's cooking school, mammaagata.com, in Ravello. With her husband and Hidden Treasures' chef and sommelier Gennaro Petti, Chiara is now sharing their family history and secrets of Mamma Agata's elegantly simple, delicious recipes. The cookbook combines personal family stories with beautiful photos and step-by-step recipe instructions.

Emphasizing the staples of the regional Mediterranean diet, the cookbook utilizes many light ingredients that locals of the Amalfi Coast are proud to claim- lemons, cheeses and fish. Featured recipes include fried pizza and farmer's spaghetti, a favorite of Jacqueline Kennedy and her son John. The cookbook even discloses the recipe for dolce al limone di Mamma Agata, Mamma Agata's famous lemon cake- a particular favorite of Humphrey Bogart, Jacqueline Kennedy and Pierce Brosnan. In this recipe alone, Mamma Agata reveals six personal secrets that keep the cake moist and flavorful.

The Mamma Agata cookbook retails for $50 and is available at Amazon.com, SelectItaly.com, mammaagata.com, and Select Independent Bookstores, including Barbara's Bookstore, barbarasbookstore.com in Chicago.

For more information visit mammaagata.com

ABOUT MAMMA AGATA

Agata Lima, now known affectionately as Mamma Agata, was born in Ravello, Italy during the period of hardships following the second World War. She and her family held a strong appreciation for the land from which they received their food and they knew it took hard work to maintain it. Agata found her passion for cooking at the young age of eight, when she began to learn recipes from her mother and grandmother in order to cook for her family. At the age of 13, she got her first job as a personal chef for an American heiress, Marajen Stevick Chinigo.

Through this opportunity, Agata was able to prepare delicious meals for numerous influential Americans, including famous actors and politicians. Agata's creations soon became highly sought-after and she was asked to prepare extravagant meals for visiting celebrities and well-heeled travelers. As Agata began to settle down and raise her daughters, her passion for cooking remained and cultivated a newfound desire to share her experience and enthusiasm with others. This led her to open The Hidden Treasures Cooking School, which quickly became the primary cornerstone to many Amalfi Coast vacations.

ABOUT THE HIDDEN TREASURE COOKING SCHOOL ON THE AMALFI COAST

Using vegetables from her own garden and lemons from her own trees, combined with all kinds of homemade pastas, olive oils, wines and sauces, Mamma Agata and her daughter Chiara Lima dazzle their guests with the simplicity and elegance of the dishes they prepare at the school in Ravello, Italy. They teach their students that minimalism is key to creating delicious, vibrant- tasting food using only the freshest essential ingredients.

Classes take place in the family's farmhouse; guests are welcomed as friends and quickly transformed into a part of the family. After the cooking lessons, the class is invited to share a meal together on the picturesque open-air patio that overlooks fresh lemon groves and features picture-perfect views of Amalfi coastal life and the Gulf of Salerno. Filled with breathtaking views, six courses of mouth-watering Italian cuisine and homemade wines, the time spent with Mamma Agata and her family becomes the experience of a lifetime.

For more information on The Hidden Treasure Cooking School, visit mammaagata.com

ABOUT CHIARA LIMA

If Mamma Agata is the soul of the family, Chiara Lima is the heart. As Mamma Agata's youngest daughter, she is the lifeblood, maintaining the 'heartbeat' of the household to ensure all parts work harmoniously. She is the author of the Mamma Agata cookbook, runs The Hidden Treasure Cooking School and serves as its interpreter.

At 21, Chiara left home to study in Germany and later enjoyed a successful career in hotels and hospitality in Germany, England, Switzerland and Ireland. Chiara relished soaking up her new surroundings and was fascinated by the kaleidoscope of people, food and customs. Chiara also developed her ability to bridge cultural divides by speaking different languages and broadening her knowledge of each country through its people. The amazing diversity in all aspects of life inspired Lima tremendously and her travels expanded her attitude, reinforcing the importance of helping, appreciating and understanding others that were instilled in her as a child.

Today, Chiara is back in Ravello on the Amalfi Coast where she is teaching and sharing her experiences with others. She is married to Gennaro Petti and together they share two children- Mario and Paola.

As the author of the Mamma Agata cookbook, Chiara's vision is to spread the passion and love that she and her family share with the students in The Hidden Treasure Cooking School in Ravello each day- a true passion for simple and genuine food and the joy of cooking with love and family.


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