Dubai, United Arab Emirates (CNN) – Like many Italians living abroad, Pepe Corsaro missed his mother’s cooking.
Born in Sicily, Italy, Corsaro moved to London at the age of 16 and soon began to crave the tastes and traditions of his home, especially the hectic Sunday morning when moms and grandmothers cooked their favorite traditional frescoes.
After his career in restaurants, Corsaro was having fun with his friends at night when someone jokingly suggested he bring his mother to cook.
But he took it very seriously.
“I said to myself, ‘Why not?’ “So I called my mom and told her I would come tomorrow,” Corsaro recalled.
Thus began in 2018 the restaurant “La Mia Mamma”, as a temporary restaurant before opening other branches and its delicious dishes changed every day.
The main idea is simple: to hire real Italian mothers and grandmothers, from one of the 20 regions of Italy, and then transfer to London, where they take a three-month stay, during which they display their traditional recipes drawn from the kitchen local. before handing over the chef’s hat to a new group.From mothers from different regions.
This system is interesting because food in Italy varies greatly depending on the geographical area.
While many foods commonly associated with Italian cuisine such as lasagna, tortellini, prosciutto crudo, rago and parmigiana come from the same region as Emilia-Romagna, there is an abundance of variety to be discovered elsewhere, often in places that may be far away. . from the usual Route for most tourists.
Currently, the restaurant “La Mia Mamma” serves cuisine from two neighboring Italian regions, Campania and Lazio, located in southwestern Italy, including Naples and Rome, respectively.
Lazio cuisine has attracted attention in recent years and includes classic dishes like carbonara, amatriciana and caccio and pepe, a seemingly simple pasta dish that consists of only four ingredients, but is actually one of the most difficult dishes due to the process of meticulous preparation. .
The region’s cozy ‘populare’ cozy food also includes lesser-known foods, such as coda alla vaccinara, an ox-tail stew that is hard to find outside of Lazio.
Every restaurant has three mothers, who are initially tested in Italy through social media.
“We are not looking for professional chefs, but we are looking for housewives who cook for their families,” explains Corsaro, adding that the selected candidates then travel to London for testing, after which they are given a residence, transport card and salary.
Most mothers, who are in their 60s and are often retired, have never lived abroad before. They all prepare their own recipes and ensure that they are executed to perfection with the help of an experienced staff of chefs.
Three months stay
The presence of mothers is not limited to the preparation of the menu, as the kitchens look out of the way, so that passers-by look at the mothers while preparing food and feel happy talking to passers-by.
“You can see them everywhere,” says Corsaro. “They are always there, attracting people to try everything that is cooked. They even dance with guests.”
All branches are located in Kensington and Chelsea, where Italians are among the largest foreign residents in the country and have contributed the largest number of new residents in the years leading up to the UK referendum on leaving the European Union. viti 2016.
So far, no mother has been rejected after her cooking test and all have adapted well to London city life, with some adjustments being made.
Anna Fama, Corsaro’s mother, says: “I’m always complained that the city is too big and the distances are long, so we had to find accommodation near restaurants.”
After her tenure, Fama decided to stay and now works as an ambassador for incoming mothers, helping them settle down.
“A mother has never left her job and she is happy to be away, and mothers who have left often ask me when they will be back,” said Fama, adding that although cooking for 200 people can be tedious, always has a relaxing atmosphere. in the kitchen..
“If something goes wrong, we can always fix it. For me, this is not a job, it’s my home. I hope to pass this on to mothers.”