All quiet in the kitchen when mum is the word

Published March 12, 2012 04:49, Source: North and West Melbourne News

Dsc 1546 1 EditedIn the warm and quaint interiors of Amiconi Restaurant at 359 Victoria Street, great food is incidental. Just as conversations around the family dinners are.

For where there is a loving family, there are bound to be numerous laughs, discussion and debate. Bring it all together around a table of sumptuous and traditional Italian food and wine, and you pretty much know that the conversation will keep flowing.

Having entertained visitors for nearly half a century, Amiconi does the things Italians do best - it shares a love for Italian food with those passionate about it. The restaurant cooking classes, now in their second year, offer a grand opportunity for enthusiasts of Italian food to learn the secrets of a traditional Italian kitchen.

Available to both beginners and experienced cooks, Amiconi's cooking classes teach what the restaurant practices in its own kitchen, Here, "mum's the word" when it comes to cooking. As chef Joe notes, "We cook the way our mothers cooked. It is the simple, traditional style."

The authenticity of its flavours, points out Amiconi owner Michael, is how the restaurant has gained its credibility. It's one that has been passed down the generations and has helped it build a loyal customer base. Watching two or three generations from a family visit Amiconi is the best reward, says Michael.

"I see 18-year-olds come with friends and talk about how the used to come with their parents. Or an 80-year-old comes with his children and talks about the experience of coming here with his father. That is rare to see in many restaurants today," he syas.

It is this shared passion for Italian food that eventually made the restaurant think of offering cooking classes.

"We started the classes because we did not want to open a second or a third Amiconi. We have a small place but six fill-time chefs who have grown with us. What we share here and what we want to share with people is out love for Italian food," says Michael.

the restaurant hosts one class every four to six weeks. The many registrations, surprisingly high in the beginning, eventually made the Amiconi team come up with and alternative to crowded multiple classes. Prior to every class, the restaurant randomly picks picks applicants from the list and calls to check their availability and interest in taking the next class.

The hands-on two-hour class has a different theme each time, with popular choices often being repeated. "Gnocchi has been one of the more popular classes and has been repeated due to popular demand. A large number of our students are professionals like lawyers and surgeonswho are passionate about cooking," reveals Joe. 

Keeping it simple, he syas, is perhaps the most important and toughest lesson for cooks. "People often try and make things complex rather than simple. When it comes to cooking good Italian food, the basics are pretty simple. Use fresh, good produce and keep the flavours true. And avoid short cuts."

There is one more thing that is essential in Amiconi's kitchen - respect. "You won't see anyone shouting or screaming in our kitchen. We enjoy our cooking and respect comes with it. That is what makes it special here," adds chef vince.

Lakshmi Balakrishman   

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