Londoner Recruits Real Italian Moms and Grandmas to Be Rotating Cooks at His Restaurant, ‘La Mia Mamma’
A homesick London restauranteur decided to the ditch the employment of culinary school graduates, and start hiring that almost mythical allegory of culinary folklore—the Italian grandmother.
For Peppe Corsaro, this return to his roots was met with huge success in the London restaurant scene, and has brought dozens of mammas from all regions of Italy.
“La Mia Mamma” is a 3-month chef-in-residency program for Italian moms and grandmas who want to travel to London to showcase their region, or province’s culinary treats. It started when Corsaro, missing his native Sicily and the marathon Sunday lunches he used to enjoy, thought he’d simply fly in his mother to cook for him in his restaurant.
Sportingly, his own mamma, Anna Famà, agreed immediately, and the project began as a pop-up in 2018. Since then Corsaro’s expanded the pilot to two full-time restaurants and a deli. After three months, the three mammas-in-residence hand their chef hats over to a new brigade of mammas from a different region.
Along with exceptional taste and attention to detail, La Mia Mamma’s secret to success is the fact that preparations and dishes can vary wildly between regions, and even within regions, such that diners have a near-endless opportunity to broaden their understanding of Italian cuisine.
For example the Germanic influence of northern Lombardy doesn’t often carry down into the food capital of Milan, much less the provinces bordering Emilia Romagna to the south.
“We’re not looking for professional chefs, but housewives who cook for their families,” Corsaro tells CNN. Most of the mammas are in their 60s, and never lived abroad. The mammas are screened via social media, before flying to London for a quick demo. Then they are set up with housing, a transportation card, and a salary equal to about a sous chef.
“It never happened that a mamma left happy to leave, and those who have gone often ask me when they can come back,” says original mamma Famà, who took on an ambassadorial role helping the mammas feel more at home.
Most mammas aren’t used to cooking for 200 people in a restaurant setting, but it’s always a relaxed attitude, as one might imagine from literal home cooking.
At the moment, the cuisines of Lazio and Sardegna are being featured—so if you’re in London…
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