When Italian food aficionado, recipe writer, photographer and blogger Paola Bacchia writes about al dente (to the tooth), she knows what she’s talking about – she’s also a clinical dentist.
What’s the buzz?
Street food is so hot right now and cucina Italiano will always be di moda, so combining the two is sure to make a splash. Following a string of sold-out cooking workshops in Melbourne and at the Anna Tasca Lanza Cooking School in Sicily, Paola’s first book, Italian Street Food, hits bookshops this month.
In the beginning …
Paola describes her upbringing, which involved lots of time in mamma’s kitchen, as the best kind of apprenticeship. While her migrant parents instilled in her a passion for food and cooking, they also insisted she follow an academic path, so she studied dentistry.
The big break …
After withdrawing from MasterChef Australia in 2012 (when her father was admitted into palliative care), Paola realised what she wanted to do. Inspired by Venetian cooking teacher Enrica Rocca, she started a food blog called Italy on my Mind, featuring recipes, photos and memories of family meals.
It quickly gained traction and was shortlisted for Best Food Blog by ITALY magazine within a year. Invitations to teach and write followed.
Where to now?
Paola divides her time between her home in Fitzroy North and her favourite parts of Italy, such as Friuli-Venezia Giulia in the north-east. “This region and its food is less well-known than other parts – I would like to bring this food to the world and become an ambassador”.
The best part about success?
Paola’s father died just before she embarked on fulfilling her food dream but he is always on her mind. “I think about how proud he would be, having fled Italy after the war, starting again in a new country, to see his daughter bringing his culture to the world. He’d probably also wonder why he bothered spending all that money putting me through dentistry!”
Look out for …
Italian Street Food (Smith Street Books, $50) is in bookshops now.