We had the good fortune of connecting with Manuela Mazzocco and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Manuela, how do you think about risk?
By nature, I’m not a risk taker. I like stability and I’m pretty adverse to anything that would be cause stress and anxiety (like crazy investments or wild bungee jumping). But (there’s always a but!) I’m always up for a challenge. And if I see an opportunity that sounds interesting and fun, I generally don’t pass it up… Or I most likely wouldn’t find myself right here, right now. I left my hometown in Italy, my family and friends and the only life I ever knew, in my early twenties to follow my (at-the-time) boyfriend’s dream in the United States. I took a big step, and I’m grateful for how lucky I was to have found a life here that we both love. I started my own business following my passion for cooking and photography. So, when last year I was approached with an offer to write a book where I could finally share my love for Italian cuisine and cooking, of course, I had to embrace the challenge, put on an apron, rev up my mixer and dive deep into my kitchen. And write my first book.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I’m not a professionally trained chef, nor a professional photographer. But I love to learn new things all the time, and try my best to improve my skills. Growing up in Italy, I know what a delicious meal should be like. It’s in my taste buds and genes. I’ve spent the last twenty years cooking every day Italian food for my family and friends. And I cook just like most people do: without fancy equipment or professional skills. That’s what I like to share in my blog: step-by-step instructions, photos and video that show you exactly what you need to do. In my book, The Complete Italian Cookbook, Essential Regional Cooking of Italy, I share 110 of what I think are the most beloved dishes from different regions of Italy. From appetizer, to salad and soup, pasta and risotto, bread and pizza, meat and fish. And dessert of course! In the book, I take my readers to a brief tour around different regions of Italy and the famous food they are known for. I give sample menus, cooking tips, and show how Italian recipes are mostly based on basic techniques and simple and fresh ingredients. I hope to inspire my readers and show that with a little time, a pinch of passion, some good appetite, anyone can create their favorite dishes to share with their family and friends. Because that’s what a homemade meal should be all about: bringing people together around the dinner table, to enjoy each other’s company, a scrumptious dish, next to an easy-to-enjoy glass of wine. Just like Italians do!
Any great local spots you’d like to shoutout?
I have to admit: I’m one lucky girl to live where I do. And crazy enough, of all the things that Los Angeles has to offer, what I love the most (and all I need to be happy) is the beach. So, if a friend comes to visit that would for sure be the first place we would see. Starting with a cozy breakfast at Urth Caffe’ on Main Street in Santa Monica, sitting outside enjoying a hot cappuccino, a crispy chocolate croissant, and ocean breeze. Followed by a bike ride along the beach path, through Venice Beach (that’s something not to be missed) and all the way to Marina del Ray, to see the beautiful boats and park along the marina. We would visit the Venice Canals, of course! Not because they remind me of my beloved Venezia, oh no! But because the area is so pretty and a great place to take a walk. We’d stroll along Abbot Kinney in Venice and grab lunch at Gjelina (one of my favorite spot). If the day is right, we would shop at the Farmer’s Market (Ocean Park or Third Street in Santa Monica), for fresh, locally grown fruits and veggies. We would stop at the beach (Ocean Park, at the Annenberg Community Beach House, or Will Roger State Beach) for some volleyball games… that is by far my favorite sport. There’s nothing more addictive than an extra fun, quite tough, and FREE, work out with friends. A drive along PCH from Santa Monica all the way to Malibu is also a must-do. Along the way, we would stop at the Malibu Pier and grab lunch at the Malibu Farm Pier Cafe, enjoying some farm to table dishes and an amazing view. Point Dume, Zuma Beach, El Matador and La Piedra are some of the breath-taking places in the area perfect to sunbath, walk, watch surfers and if it’s the right time of the year, look for whales. They come really close to shore in that stretch of sand between Zuma and Point Dume. In this area there are beautiful trails too. Especially in spring time, you will find impressive paths covered with wildflowers. We’d pick up some food at Cinque Terre West in Pacific Palisades (my new favorite local spot with authentic Italian dishes) for a picnic at the beach. Or take a walk along Palisades Park in Santa Monica at sunset for unforgettable views. As I said, I’m really grateful for all the beauty that surrounds me.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Thank you to my family and friends, followers and readers for the continued support. I wouldn’t have a blog or my new book without you. And a huge thank you to the Callisto Publishing team for giving me the opportunity to express myself, create and publish my first cookbook.