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Italian food - exactly like mama used to make

PUBLISHED: 12:33 02 October 2008 | UPDATED: 15:26 07 September 2010

It seems that even Italian boys who work in restaurants believe their mothers are better cooks than the chefs they work with. But there are not many restaurants that would be willing to put this to the test. Diners, though, at the Caffe Caldesi in Maryleb

It seems that even Italian boys who work in restaurants believe their mothers are better cooks than the chefs they work with. But there are not many restaurants that would be willing to put this to the test.

Diners, though, at the Caffe Caldesi in Marylebone - owned by Giancarlo and Katie Caldesi - will have the chance to taste for themselves next week when the mothers of several staff take over the kitchen.

The idea began about a year ago over a plate of spaghetti vongole.

"I was eating this dish made by a previous chef and I didn't like it very much," Katie said. "Matteo, our bar manager, said, 'my mother makes much better spaghetti vongole than this', and then another one of the waiters said, 'my mother makes better spaghetti vongole than this...

"So I said we had better get your mothers over then, and they said, yes, she'll come over if you want."

By the time Katie had asked several other staff, she became convinced that it just might work. Now, seven mothers will spend the week cooking and passing on their recipes and methods. Even the managing director's mother is taking part.

"It going to be great - great for morale, great for expanding our repertoire of recipes. We'll learn a lot from them, and hopefully they'll enjoy the experience," Katie said.

"The more I think about it the more committed I am to this week, and making good Italian home cooking the focus of our business. Even when we go to Italy I generally have better food in the houses than I do in the restaurants. It's good ingredients simply cooked and all that lovely flavour that comes through."

Katie is currently researching and writing a book of Italian recipes gathered from her travels in the country, and is hoping some of next week's recipes will find their way in there, too.

As Katie says: "Good food comes from the home." Find out for yourself next week.

To book a table during Italian Mama's Week call 020-7935 9226/7.

There are still vacancies at their Tuscan cookery school. For more information call or go to the website at www.lacucina.caldesi.com.

Barry Reynolds

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