JOURNAL: Making a Homemade Dinner with Andrea
I had the chance to cook with one of the friendliest chefs in the town of Sorrento, Italy. His name is Andrea Florentino. We had the chance to make typical homemade Italian plates during one of my classes. I was so impressed by this event that I had to talk with Andrea to see if I could come back at least one more time. To make a long story short, Andrea gave me the opportunity to come not just one more time, but as many times as I wanted to! Now I come at least two times during the week to learn more about the art of making food.
You might be wondering, “Who is Andrea?” Let me explain you who this wonderful chef is.
Andrea was born in raised in this beautiful town of Sorrento in the southern part of Italy. It is a popular town with tourists, especially in the summer. Also, since this town is by the sea, it’s a fishing town and the seafood is always fresh. These are some of the reasons that made Andrea’s father, Mario Florentino, became a chef. Since he was a kid, Andrea used to help his dad in the kitchen.
When Andrea was 17, his dad got really sick and could not perform his job in the kitchen anymore. At that time, the manager of the hotel Eulyses named Andrea as chef of the hotel’s kitchen. Andrea said, “I was feeling like this was better than winning the lottery.” Some of his co-workers were jealous at him becoming the chef at such a young age. Some of them even tried to push him out of his job!
Andrea overcame this obstacle, and became a respected chef, not just in the kitchen, but in town, too. It was hard work for Andrea, but he found the strength inside himself.
I usually come twice during the week to take cooking lessons from Andrea. These lessons have been so helpful. I have learned things such as always keeping the knife sharp, in order to prevent getting cut. When the knife is not sharp, people usually put more force in the knife, which leads to finger cuts. I’m learning to cook seafood plates. Sorrento is next to the sea, which means that all the fresh seafood comes straight out the ocean. I know that I would be making some of these plates when I come back to New York.
Andrea has been teaching me not just tips when it comes to cooking, but also he has been teaching me about the Italian culture. Have I mentioned that Andrea speaks just a little English? During all this time, we have been having a mixture of languages during our conversations. Andrea was telling me that his dream is to open his own restaurant with his dad, and he might be getting close to this goal! He told me that he just has a few years left working for the hotel Eulyses. I am happy to have Andrea as my friend in Sorrento!