When we went to Tuscany, one of my fondest memories was our private chef experience. It really helps you to discover the essence of Italian cooking and get to know the specific foods within the region you’re visiting.
So when we booked a trip to Puglia, Italy I knew I had to find a private chef. I found Puglia Kitchen on Instagram. When I saw that the chef Domenico is also a personal trainer, owns a Masseria (farm) and glanced at his creations, I knew we had to book him.
Why book a private chef experience?
It feels really special having a talented chef rustle up amazing dishes and then personally serve you, explaining everything about the food. If you’re enjoying a private chef with your other half, then you will get the chance to have a romantic evening – particularly if, like us, you’ve chosen a beautiful setting.
Although it’s nice to go out for meals when you’re travelling, sometimes you can’t be bothered to go out. With a private chef, you can bring the local cuisine to your doorstep and dine in instead. They can answer any questions you might have about the food and local traditions, or if you prefer more privacy, they can simply serve up your dishes and disappear back into the kitchen.
We all deserve a treat every now and then, and being wined and dined is a wonderful experience.
God, I love pasta. I can consume a shocking amount. It’s just so darn satisfying, especially when accompanied by a drewl-worthy sauce and tons of cheese. I would probably choose homemade pasta as my last meal if I could.
And yet, despite loving pasta so much, I’ve never learned to make it. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. So when Domenico said he could combine a pasta-making lesson with his private chef experience, I jumped at the opportunity to enjoy both.
We got the chance to make two types of pasta, Orecchiette which is popular in Southern Italy, particularly Puglia and Capunti, a pasta which kind of looks like an open empty pea pod. You’ll find both these kinds of pasta served in restaurants throughout this region.
First, we were taught how to make the mixture for the pasta. You mix the flour and spelt together and then gradually add water. Kneading the mixture with your hands, you press and push it until it forms the right texture.
Then Domenico taught us how to make the different shapes. One thing I realised is that pasta making is a delicate art, and a lot of energy and dedication goes into making it. Each piece is handmade and it’s a lot harder than you’d think to get the right shape! It’s clearly something that takes a lot of practice.
It was great fun getting our hands dirty and getting stuck into making the pasta for our dinner. Domenico cooked the pasta that we made into our dinner so we can literally taste how our creations turned out!
Orecchiette pasta recipe
- 320g durum flour (or semolina)
- 80g flour (spelt, wheat, plain)
- Warm water
- Pinch of salt
– Mix the flour together in a bowl and then put the flour on a flat wooden bench/large chopping board
– Make a well inside the flour and add a little bit of warm water
– Use a fork to gradually mix the flour with the water. If needed, add some water again a little bit every time.
– Start to mix the flour and water with your hands. Knead the dough until smooth and springy.
– Cover the dough with a wet tea towel.
Private chef experience
One of our favourite things about having a private chef is how many courses you get to enjoy. Hello two pasta courses. We sat outside on our balcony in Matera with the most amazing view of the city, and part way through dinner the bell tower started ringing which added to the romantic atmosphere and made the evening even more special!
We began with homemade focaccia made with olives and tomatoes from the farm. Next, we were served a savoury tiramisu (believe me, it works) which was made with sun-dried tomatoes, stracciatella cheese and bread. Then Domenico bought out a selection of cheeses made on his farm. It included two kinds of cheese that are popular in the region, scamorza and primo sale.
We had orecchiette with olive oil, basil, tomato and cheese. The capunti was served up in a tomato based sauce and topped with shavings of cheese. After this we were treated to veal in a tomato sauce, it was so tender and tasty.
For pudding, we had a fig tart made with ricotta. The crunchy, crumbly biscuit base was such a treat, and the sweetness of the digs complemented the creamy ricotta perfectly.
Domenico also put some thought into the wines we served. He started us off with a white sparkling wine from Alberobello which we loved! We don’t usually enjoy sparkling wines, and after having this I don’t want prosecco again because it simply can’t compare! We also had a wonderful red wine with the veal, also from Alberobello.
It’s safe to say we were absolutely stuffed by the end of the dinner. All the courses were absolutely delicious and Domenico was extremely professional and a delight to have around. If you’re visiting Puglia get in touch with him and he can help you plan the perfect evening or event. Here’s a link to his Instagram so you can see his creations.