[Photos provided by Diane Smutny]
[Master Istruttore Leo Spizzirri teaches a cooking class at the North American Pizza & Culinary Academy in Lisle.]
LISLE – At a state-of-the-art demonstration kitchen, chefs adept at diverse cuisines are sharing their secrets with home cooks in classes at the newly opened North American Pizza & Culinary Academy in Lisle.
Several celebrity chefs will be guest faculty this autumn. In addition, the academy and a center in San Francisco are the only two professional schools in the U.S. accredited in the art of making pizza, including wood-fired techniques, by the Scuola Italiana Pizzaioli in Venice.
Holding the Italian school's title of master istruttore (or instructor) is Leo Spizzirri, who co-founded the academy in Lisle with Anthony Iannone. Spizzirri, an expert in the dough industry, instructs five-day courses for professional accreditation, as well as home-cooking pizza classes that use an electric oven.
"Some of the classes are hands-on and [people] get to make food with the chef; some are demonstrations – the chef doing the recipe in front of them," Iannone said. "Everybody will get to taste the food … Leo and I have the Italian grandmother syndrome. We don't want anybody walking out of our door not feeling content."
A leading teacher is Renee Gabbett, a former private chef in homes as well as a longtime instructor including at a leading culinary equipment retailer.
Iannone said her expertise was critical in creating home-cooking courses and setting the fun tone.
"People that enjoy cooking learn that you don't have to be so serious at it," Iannone said. "People will learn some fairly simple dishes that you can make at home and enjoy doing it."
During class, participants can purchase beer or wine by the glass or bottle.