Cooking class in Italy despite food allergies

Sophia and her mum

Sophia, a teen from Victoria, shares her story about building her cooking skills.  

Cooking is a passion of mine and I believe it is an important skill that everyone should have, especially people with food allergies. Learning to cook enables you to make delicious meals that you can share with your loved ones and allows you to learn about different cultures through their individual cuisines. For those with food allergies, cooking your own meals gives you the ability to check every ingredient you are using, to minimise the risk of an allergic reaction.

Despite having life-threatening food allergies (peanuts, tree nuts, seafood, sesame, raw egg), I am still able to participate in and enjoy cooking classes. However, there are steps you should take to reduce possible risks so that you can have a fun and memorable experience. Prior to booking a cooking class, find out what recipes you will be learning to cook and enquire about how the chef will accommodate your allergies. It is important to choose a class that is based on a cuisine which does not commonly use the food/s that you are allergic to. If considering doing a cooking class abroad, make sure to check that the chef also speaks sufficient English so that you can avoid any miscommunication.

Last year I did an Italian cooking class in Bologna, Italy, with my mum and our family-friend. It was an incredible experience! It was a small group, just the three of us and the chef, which meant that it was not only a very hands-on cooking class but it was also easier to make sure that my allergies were carefully considered. After meeting up with the chef, we went to some local markets and purchased the produce for the recipes that we would be cooking. This gave me the opportunity to check with the chef that all the ingredients we were going to be using were safe for me to consume. He was able to gather this information for me by speaking to the shopkeepers in their native tongue.

Once we picked up the ingredients we headed to the chef’s apartment where the cooking began. We started with an entrée of seared beef with parmesan, rocket, and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar from Modena. For our main course, we made two types of pasta; tortelloni stuffed with ricotta and served in butter and sage, as well as, tagliatelle alla Bolognese. It was delicious and the recipes were traditional and simple, making it easier to reduce the risk of allergens. 

When attending a cooking class, you must be willing to accept that you may not be able to eat every single dish that is made. Just make sure that there is no cross-contamination between the meals you can and cannot eat. I am allergic to raw egg and as a part of this Italian cooking class we made tiramisu for the dessert. Although I could not eat the tiramisu, it was still fun to learn how to make it so that I can cook it for others in the future.

This Italian cooking class, like all the other cooking classes I have done, was a fantastic and memorable experience. If you have food allergies, it still may be possible for you to enjoy cooking classes as long as you take the necessary precautions.

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Content created June 2020

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