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A top Italian chef aims to share his bread-making expertise, writes Simone O’Kane

DO you want to be able to cook like an Italian master?

That’s the question award-winning chef Maurizio Bocchi and his wife, Cinzia, are asking as they launch new cooking masterclasses at their restaurant in Gisburn.

Tomorrow the couple are inviting members of the community to bake bread and take a trip back to the traditional ways of home cooking.

“It is a great way to get customers and different people involved in the simple steps of making bread at home,” said Maurizio, owner of La Locanda.

“The cooking master- classes are easy, and what you learn here, in our kitchen, can all be done at home. I always think of a home kitchen and not a professional kitchen because people need to be able to take the skills back home and practise.

“With their busy lifestyles people can par bake and freeze the bread and finish it off when they get home from work. If you can do it every day then that is great. you can feed the family and save some money. it’s a cheaper way to eat bread.”

The Pane e Focaccia Masterclass helps you bake your way to success, according to the chef. Would-be bakers will learn all about ingredients, kneading, proofing and shaping as well as cooking two types of focaccia and breadsticks.

Maurizio said: “The idea is to get people cooking and learning the method rather than taking the recipe down on a piece of paper and shove it in the kitchen drawer. practical recipes tend to work more.

“People cook the bread in our oven and take it home, and it’s really nice and they are proud of what they have made – it’s also fun.

“There’s no breadmaker – the best tool for the job is the hands.”

Bocchi will guide you through this hands-on practical day, which is dedicated to learning every stage of the bread baking process.

In the restaurant’s kitchen, he will discuss the importance of ingredients and explain the journey from flour to finished focaccia as well as teaching people about other types of bread to take home and enjoy.

Pasta masterclasses have been successful. He said: “A lot of people wanted to learn how to make their own pasta. Families are turning to the traditional methods of cooking and that’s great.

“Children love to get involved at a cooking class.

“when we do the children’s classes there’s so much mess with flour all over the place but that’s what it is all about. I become a bit of a child, and it’s great.

“It is important to get the family cooking. The preparation time is part of the meal itself and part of a good lifestyle.”

Still passionate about olive oil and its benefits, Maurizio and Cinzia, have campaigned for and promoted extra virgin olive oil across the globe.

The couple sponsored the international olive oil conference last year, spending £55,000 to gather the public, students, experts and scientists who made recommendations for new standards in the use of high-quality olive oils for health benefits.

Customers to La Locanda enjoy quality extra virgin olive oil, given to them with freshly made breads.

Maurizio said: “We will carry on working with the Italian government to launch another project to promote the benefits of extra virgin olive oil, on how to use, understand and cook with it.

“We need to be able to have more of a choice on the oils that are available.

“The ones in fancy bottles or the ones that are a pretty colour are often no use and don’t have any benefits.”

  •  To take part in one of the masterclasses, call 01200 445303.