Italian Cooking Class

with CA Grown, Aida Mollenkamp and Kate Ramos



A Virtual Italian Cooking Class With
CA Grown, Kate Ramos and Aida Mollenkamp

Article by Molly Adams 
Photography by Kate Ramos and Aida Mollenkamp
This spring, #TeamFeedfeed was set to host an in person Italian Cooking class at FeedfeedLosAngeles in partnership with CA Grown hosted by the amazingly talented duo of Kate Ramos and Aida Mollenkamp. 2020 and the COVID-19 crisis had other plans, but thanks to the talent and flexibility of CA GrownKate Ramos, and Aida Mollenkamp we were able to bring an amazing virtual Italian Cooking Class to life via Zoom! During the intimate (albeit socially distanced) evening Kate and Aida led guests through a beautifully curated menu, teaching participants how to make everything from a modern wine spritzer to homemade pasta to classic panforte. These dishes were all inspired by the amazing bounty of California Grown products. You can take a look at all of the recipes made during the evening HERE and also find a collection of California Wine Cocktails HERE.
After getting to know Kate and Aida over the past several months and learning so much from them during the live virtual event, I felt very lucky to be able to interview them to learn a bit more about their backgrounds, cooking styles and relationship with all things California Grown
Molly Adams: Aida can you tell us about your background in Italian cuisine? How did you become such a pasta expert?

Aida Mollenkamp: Growing up in an Italian-American household with a big family means that I’ve been cooking for a crowd since I can remember.  And the majority of those early memories are around making pasta — most often ravioli or gnocchi — with my grandmother. I have also cooked in Italy for quite a bit of time, be it when I lived there after college to now when I lead our food-focused group trips for Salt & Wind Travel. I wouldn’t say I’m a pasta expert but am definitely passionate about it because, like making breads, it’s something that requires attention and a certain art to master. I spend about 8 weeks annually in Italy and always make it a point to cook with someone different, from a chef to an avid home cook, and through that I’ve learned the combination of pasta tips that I shared in this class. 

MA: Kate, we love the fresh, healthy, simple cooking style of traditional Mexican cuisine. How does living in California with such an amazing bounty of ingredients influence what you are cooking on a daily basis?

Kate Ramos: I can say from experience of living all over the country, that for a cook, there is no better place to live than California, simply due to the incredible produce that is available year round. I am constantly inspired at our local Farmers Market and let those fruits and vegetables be my guide as far as what I'm going to make on any given day. These farmers make my life really easy when it comes to making healthy food for my family. When the ingredients are this fresh, there's very little I have to do to make a delicious meal. Most of the time, I bring a few things home—like asparagus in the spring, tomatoes in the summer, or Brussels sprouts and broccoli in the winter— season them with salt and pepper, maybe a little olive oil and that's it. We grill them, roast them in the oven, or chop them up and eat them raw, they're that good! 

MA: Can you tell us what seasonal produce you are most looking forward to this summer? What's the first thing you'll make with it?

KR: One thing I always look forward to in the summer is the fruit! There's ripe fresh fruit that's available all year long here in California, but in the summer it's massive! The variety is endless and everything is so sweet and flavorful. The dozens of varieties of melons, berries, figs, cherries, stone fruits, I could go on and on. I try to buy something different every time I go to the market and pile it all on a huge platter that sits on our kitchen table. Then when the kids get hungry or want a snack there's always something ripe and delicious waiting for them. Just like this  Ultimate Summer Fruit Board!

MA:The beauty of #CAGrown goes beyond produce, what are some of the other California Grown products you stock in your kitchen.

KR: Of course California Olive Oil and wine have a permanent spot in my kitchen as well as nuts like almonds and pistachios. My pantry is also well stocked with dried fruit like prunes and figs, and I always have a few different varieties of California honey too. 

MA: If you had one bit of advice for incorporating more fresh, seasonal produce into the average home cooks everyday routine, what would it be?

KR: I think it starts at the market. If you are buying really fresh, ripe, just-picked produce that tastes amazing you are way more likely to want to eat it, than something that has been picked weeks ago and sitting in a plastic bag on a shelf. Taking the time to seek out your local Farmer's Market and buying your produce there is so worth the trip. Plus the experience in and of itself is really nice. You get to meet the people who grow your food, get to discover new ingredients you can't find at the grocery store, and swap ideas for how to cook it. 
Watch the Full Recording of the class HERE

Big thanks to our partner CA Grown for making this event possible! Want to join us next time? Please click here to sign up for our events distribution list!