It’s almost difficult to fathom that just a few short years ago, we had all the time in the world to either pursue interests we back-burnered or pick up new skills. As countless social media accounts will attest, baking and cooking was a way to reach out to like-minded individuals while staying in. It also ran parallel to other goals, such as eating healthier, cultivating a more sustainable lifestyle, and starting a new business.
Busto Arsizio, Italy-born, Los Angeles-based Silvia Carluccio managed to do all three. While she enjoyed a successful career at Live Nation Entertainment (a high-profile event production company and venue promoter) prior to 2020, having time on her hands after a layoff led to an unexpected new career goal springing out of her passion for food.
‘I started cooking out of my small kitchen, basically a garage, and soon began to sell lasagna, fresh pasta, cheeses, and sauce,’ she says, sitting in the main cooking area at King’s Roost, a catering venue in Los Angeles’ Silverlake neighbourhood, between a pie-making class and a foccacia baking session. She stresses that the genesis of the idea lay in her memories of her childhood in Italy involving food.
While word about her provisions attracted like-minded people who share the belief that food brings people together, it was only a matter of time before some customers suggested she teach cooking lessons online. Although she was shy about her own cooking skills even with the success of her sales, she got to know many chefs, bakers, and creators with successful track records who were interested in teaching classes and sharing their knowledge. ‘I like to live behind the scenes,’ she explains. ‘I think that everyone has their strength. Mine is to organize. I want to put the the spotlight on the people leading the classes who really know how to cook.’
She initially ran the online classes idea that would become Impastiamo, by a professional chef friend in Silver Lake, and with his nod of approval, enlisted the help of friends to promoted the classes in the same way she says she would promote a concert.
‘A few years and 380 classes later, we’ve been running a lot of cooking classes for small companies, large corporations, team meetings, crazy parties, kids’ parties and it’s been a crazy time,’ she says. ‘We have also hosted a lot of fundraisers, and planned cooking classes where we donated the proceeds to a non-profit the chef leading the class supports. I also developed relationships with local farmers and purveyors. We’re so lucky that we get to work with people who really believe in growing organic because it’s not an easy job. People taking our classes appreciate this.’
It was a process to move from organizing the building blocks of the classes to airing Zoom classes to running in-person classes in seven different spaces in Los Angeles, from downtown LA and Echo Park in the eastern side of the city to Santa Monica and Venice in the west. As she ultimately did not want to limit herself to Italian cooking lessons, she reached out to chefs, bakers, and other food artisans with a deep knowledge culinary skills and flavour profiles from around the world.
While everything is hands-on, the experience is anything but fussy. All tools used can be found in most US kitchens. Class participants sip wine and listen to music while learning a thing or two—mostly how easy it can be to make a global array of food right at home and help the planet in the process.
‘One of the things I noticed when I moved from Italy to the US is how much food gets wasted,’ she continues. ‘In Italy, we try to use every little bit, and my mom, who came here for a visit, reminds me to never throw anything out that can be repurposed. It’s always nice to be reminded that cooking at home is a big part of a bigger impact that we can participate in for our planet.’
Inès Glaser, who is running the foccacia class, has a career track that parallels Silvia’s. While she enjoyed the travel perks of her career in film and television, she left the industry in 2017 to study the art of pizza and foccacia dough-making at AVPN in Napoli. She took the experience to a job as a line cook at a top Italian restaurant in Los Angeles and an apprenticeship with world-renowned chefs at Baest in København.
To view upcoming classes offered by Impastiamo in Los Angeles, New York City, México and elsewhere, click here. For recipes from past Impastiamo classes, visit impastiamoclasses.com/recipes.