What I love about running The Italian Supper Club is the unexpected location, the unpredictable results and the joy of seeing people love the food I prepare.
I cook without recipes and I only follow my memories. Memories of my mom being around the kitchen. I am Italian and la cucina (kitchen) for us Italians is the beating cuore (heart) of our homes.
My mum used to cook fresh and sensational food out of simple and seasonal ingredients from my dad’s orto (orchard). When I was little, there was no concept of organic food, although looking back at it now I realize that we only ate food that was organically grown.
Mangia mangia, is what you hear when you go to an Italian house for lunch or dinner. I find myself impulsively saying that to my kids! My wife and I laugh about it convulsively.
I moved from Italy to England 14 years ago where I found it very difficult to adjust to the non-Italian cuisine. Over time I adjusted so well that my favourite food became East Indian, Japanese and English Pub gourmet food. When I moved to Canada with my wife two years ago, I already knew I would adjust much easier to the local cuisine offerings since my favourite food is sushi and Asian food. Here in Vancouver Asian food can be very authentic.
I love authentic food and the people who make it. That’s what made my wife and I start to think about offering authentic Italian food and letting people experience the Italian abundance of courses and the never ending food coming out of the kitchen. So we started The Italian Supper Club.
My wife and I come from the corporate world; I worked in Banking and my wife worked in Learning and Development as a trainer and Executive coach in London, England. Both of our experiences formed us and led us to create a business that we are both passionate about. We love food and we think its relevance is key in our society. Although technology moves so fast nowadays, the way we interact with food will never change in its essence. We taste with our senses and that creates a unique experience where memories are formed. My best memories have always been created around food I enjoyed in my upbringing. My Mom used to call me musciunedu, which in my Calabrese dialect means “little food lover”.
I love introducing new food to the guests attending our dinner parties or in the corporate team building sessions that we offer as part of our services. I cook and teach how to cook the same food I ate when I was growing up. Unfortunately, my mom passed away twelve years ago, but my sister and I still carry on using her unwritten recipes. We carry them in our hearts.
I want this amore (love) for food and casual dining to be transmitted to my kids’ generation too, and for them to think about food as something that brings people joyfully together. That’s why The Italian Supper Club goes to people’s homes. We want to help people reconnect with the food they love and with the preparation of it. At our dinner parties, we show people how to cook everyday food as well as more sophisticated meals from scratch. The food I grew up with is becoming more my identity now that I am getting older. Now in my late 30s, I appreciate the time we sit down all together to celebrate famiglia and amici (family and friends) more and more.
We have also started running La Dolce Vita Pop-Up Dinner Restaurants in stunning locations around Vancouver and the Fraser Valley. For these events we partner with Slow Food Vancouver. The concept of the pop-up dinners is that we invite a small group of people to join us in celebrating food, nature and a love for community building. This aspect of the event has attracted other local businesses, such the Backyard Vineyards in Langley to partner with us, Lepp Farm Market, SPA Utopia, Lee’s Market, George’s Gourmet Meat and Red Alchemy Photographic Arts. We will launch our first pop up dinners in their amazing vineyard.
In partnership with Slow Food Vancouver we are also planning ‘from farm to table’ brunches where we will work with farmers around BC and cook with their fresh ingredients from their farms.
Pop-up restaurants are something that used to happen very often in my family during my childhood. My Mom used to prepare lots of food to share with family and friends when we were going on a trip or to the beach, or after a mountain walk. The food was not just a snack; it was a three course sit-down meal. My mom would set up a beautiful table wherever we were and we sat down and enjoyed delicious food and laughter. Life was not perfect, but those memories are a refuge and I dwell in awe on those joyful thoughts of a time that is now gone.
Our goal for this year is to increase people’s connection with homemade slow food and to bring back the precious family time we don’t allow ourselves to experience in our busy society.
We would also like to bring correct pronunciation of Italian food! Bruschetta is pronounced bru-skett-a and not bru-shett-a!!!
By Uli Larosa
Facebook: The Italian Supper Club