Last week we spent a day learning how to cook delicious Italian dishes on a private cooking course in Feock (near Truro).
Niki and I had been looking forward to this for weeks – we are both lovers of Italian food, and Niki is definitely one of the most pasta obsessed people I know! I’ve only ever made pasta fresh once before years ago, so I was excited to give it a go again, but in the end we came away learning SO much more than just pasta dough.
Jonti has spent years running cooking courses around the world, and has now started offering them here in Cornwall too, alongside running food pop-ups and catering for events in her horsebox-turned-mobile-food-van, Mange Tout Mobile. You may have seen her about if you’re in or around the Truro area!
After spending the last 23 years living overseas in Italy and more recently in Antigua, she is now based in beautiful Feock (just a 10 minute drive from Cornwall’s capital of Truro) running private cooking courses for small groups out of her kitchen (which is also beautiful, by the way, and even has a view of the sea!).
Our Experience: What to expect
Arriving at Jonti’s house, she made us feel instantly welcome with cups of coffee, cake, and a really warm introduction. Niki and I both agreed after the course that Jonti’s personality truly makes this experience magical; she is fun, kind, and has a great sense of humour, and within no time at all, you feel like you’ve known her for years.
Having a great teacher who makes you feel comfortable is super important when going on a private course like this as you’re spending a lot of time together; Jonti’s courses are a really personal experience and you’ll feel like you’ve made a great friend afterwards too!
Anyway, onto the FOOD!
To start with Jonti introduced us to some of the techniques for making a pasta dough (including creating an ‘egg volcano’), talking us through the ingredients as we went. She also supplies folders with recipes inside and a space for you to write notes as you cook
We also made a focaccia dough (the BEST kind of bread, am I right?) and left these to prove while we set to work preparing the fillings for our pasta.
Being a small group and a personal setting, Jonti likes her courses to be really hands-on, so after some knife skills tips and demonstrations, she had Niki and I cutting up the veg ready for cooking. It’s great that she includes proper knife/cutting skills here rather than just letting you get on with it, as it means you can take away something super practical that you can apply to lots of different things too.
Jonti tries to use seasonal and local ingredients where she can in her cooking, so our fillings for the day were a roast butternut squash with sage and parmesan, and a spinach and ricotta combo. We talked all about local markets and the best places to get amazing cheese (tip: The Food Barn at Tregew is a must-visit if you’re local)!
Among our chats, we ended up talking in-depth about tomatoes and also garlic. Niki and I both love these ingredients, but it turns out there was so much we didn’t know! Having lived in Italy for several years, Jonti is incredibly knowledgeable about the different types of tomatoes and what you might use them for in cooking (plus she showed us how to make an amazing fresh tomato pasta sauce), and we were also fascinated to learn about how the flavour of garlic changes depending on what form it comes in and at what point you add it into the cooking.
I love how passionate Jonti is about each ingredient and different techniques – and it definitely comes across in her food as well (which I’ve tried before from Mange Tout Mobile!).
Once the dough had proved, we set to work using the pasta machine to create thin sheets of pasta to make our shapes from.
Jonti was very patient explaining how to do it without tearing or breaking the pasta, and the best techniques for making ravioli and tortellini shapes. When it comes to food I’m pretty heavy-handed… or with anything for that matter, so it’s quite a testament to Jonti’s teaching that we got through this with some pretty good looking pasta!
We made ravioli with the spinach and ricotta filling, and served this with the fresh tomato sauce, and filled the tortellini with the butternut squash, served on its own with a sprinkle of parmesan.
I’ve never eaten pasta plain like that before, but clearly when it’s fresh and great quality, you don’t actually need to add anything because it tastes so good on its own! The butternut squash tortellini ended up being my favourite because of the sweetness from the squash.
Once everything was cooked, we sat down to enjoy a plate of each alongside the focaccia we’d made and a glass of wine – the best way to end an afternoon like this! Jonti also made us a small dessert treat of these almond biscuits; totally delicious but as you can imagine we were absolutely stuffed! So took a couple home with us to enjoy later on.
This was honestly one of the most enjoyable Saturdays I’ve had in a long time, and we both came away having learned loads of practical skills and knowledge that will definitely stick with us for our own cooking. Thank you so much to Jonti for having us!
Time: Starts at 10:30am (lasts roughly 4 – 5 hours)
Location: At Jonti’s house in Feock (10 mins outside Truro)
Includes: Learn to make fresh pasta with fillings, focaccia bread and sauce. + Eat with a glass of wine at the end!
Fancy booking your own course? Get in touch with Jonti using any of the details below!
*We were invited along on this experience in exchange for a review, but all opinions are my own. We had the BEST day, learned loads, and I can’t recommend Jonti highly enough :)