La Pergola – Hampshire, UK


Dan has been with us twice, over two weeks in total. He reached out to us as head chef and second generation of a successful Italian restaurant in the UK, keen to improve his knowledge of authentic and traditional Emilian cuisine. He wanted to overturn some clichés surrounding Italian cuisine abroad and wanted to learn ‘the real, traditional way of doing things’. He was interested in seeing and learning about the production process of some of the most famous products, in particular Parmigiano Reggiano PDO, Mortadella PGI, Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena PDO and Prosciutto di Parma PDO. Dan also wanted a full-immersion into traditional pasta-making methods, add authentic dishes to add to his restaurant’s already existing menu and learn some new desserts and new Italian breads, in addition to ‘benchmarking’ the best Lasagne, Ragù, Polenta, Tiramisù and Semifreddo. He was also keen to learn more about truffles and experiment with some truffle dishes.

We first explained the differences between PDO and PGI products and the legally specified criteria for making the products. We organised a series of visits to small, artisan PDO and PGI food producers, learning about their production methods and doing various in-depth tastings. We organised several pasta-making sessions, with ‘Sfogline’ (traditional pasta-makers) in several restaurants so he could get a feel for the different techniques. We set up a cooking course/session in a local Michelin star restaurant renowned for its fidelity to traditional dishes using the finest quality local products as well as some other award-winning restaurants each famous for certain dishes that we believe they make to an excellent standard. We organised an 'eatinerary' - selecting several restaurants for Dan to eat in, where he could taste some more innovative uses of certain ingredients like truffles and other local products and organised some ad-hoc cooking courses with independent chefs for the dishes he wanted to perfect, as well as enabling him to ‘help out’ in a couple of the areas most illustrious kitchens.

Dan Passarelli

Dan was also keen to explore some of the local vineyards, learn about the autocthonous and well-known wines of the region, as well as identify some to pair with the local cuisine and add to his own restaurant’s wine list – in the vein of ‘whatever grows together, goes together’. He took a few back to try out at home.

Dan’s experience has been very complete, although he is planning a third trip back to learn some more. He is on a personal mission to introduce Tagliatelle al Ragù Bolognese in his restaurant , rather than Spaghetti, although he fears a backlash from his local British customers. But he is educating them.

He said "It was very difficult for me to explain to Helena at Yummy Italy what it was I was looking for. However, after a few phone calls she understood exactly what I wanted in terms of learning about food products and benchmarking some of Emilia Romagna's best dishes. She made so many suggestions that were spot-on and organised experiences with fantastic chefs and producers, as well as choosing some amazing restaurants to eat at. This was probably the best complete culinary experience I have ever had in Italy. I can trust her with my eyes closed".