Cravings Blog

Ortygia hosts cooking classes open to the public

Gaetano Cannata, chef/owner of Ortygia Restaurant shown in this file photo, serves up tradition and camaraderie to his guests.
Gaetano Cannata, chef/owner of Ortygia Restaurant shown in this file photo, serves up tradition and camaraderie to his guests. Herald file photo

Chef Gaetano “Guy” Cannata knew his cooking classes worked with private groups, but he wasn’t sure how popular the classes would be with the public. The first one is already overbooked.

“We wanted to stop at 10 (people),” Gaetano said. “We did the first email and got two responses. Then we send out another and the phone was ringing off the hook. I took seven people but I didn’t know she (Gaetano’s consultant) had taken six, so we’re overbooked.”

The class is July 30 at Ortygia, 1418 13th St. W., where the group will make two Sicilian dishes and a dessert. One dish has fried eggplant slices rolled up and stuffed with angel hair pasta and baked with tomato sauce and cheese. The other is panzanella, a salad traditionally made with stale bread.

“That’s how poor people used to eat,” Gaetano said. He’s not a fan of stale bread, so instead he toasts his own bread for use in the recipe. The bread soaks up olive oil, vinegar and juices from fresh tomatoes for an authentically Sicilian flavor.

As far as dessert goes, Gaetano hasn’t decided what to make yet. He has to be careful choosing the dishes, because he wants participants to have a hands-on experience. At the same time, because of insurance purposes, he can’t put knives in people’s hands or have them too close to a stove. So the classes will mostly involve participants assembling the dishes.

The classes cost $50 and include lunch and wine. The cost excludes tax and tip.

Gaetano said he’s surprised by the level of interest already generated. To sign up for future classes at Ortygia, send your name, number of people you’d like to bring, and your contact information to april@ortygiarestaurant.com. To reach the restaurant by phone, call 941-741-8646. For more information about Chef Gaetano and Ortygia, visit ortygiarestaurant.com.

Janelle O’Dea: 941-745-7095, @jayohday

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