Emma Mitro spoke to Natalina Bombino Campagnolo, owner and chef of Natalina’s Kitchen based in Guelph, Ontario. Recently, Natalina had authored and published her cookbook “Bringing Homemade Back,” filled with her favorite recipes and tricks for perfect homemade dishes.
Natalina’s Kitchen also offers food experiences and opportunities for anyone who wants a little taste of Italy! She shares with us her journey, the impacts of COVID-19, and how she adapted to a virtual world of online cooking sessions.
Natalina on her decision to follow this career path
Growing up in a Southern Italian household, I have always loved food and cooking. It wasn’t hard to appreciate homemade, scratch cuisine, often with produce from our garden. I started taking cooking classes as a primary school student till young adulthood. Some of my favorite “Food Personalities” long before the Food Network were Julia Child and The Galloping Gourmet. For the earlier part of my life, cooking was mostly just a hobby.
After spending twelve years in banking, my husband was offered a work opportunity in Milan, Italy. After considering all options, I gave up my career to move with my husband and our two boys to Milan. We lived there for almost three years, and during this time, I discovered the Italian Food Culture as I had mostly witnessed through my parents.
Living like an Italian firsthand in Milan, I wondered about my next career move once we returned to Canada. So the idea of the cooking school was born. Initially, the plan was to teach Italian Food Culture part-time to continue to put my family first, which grew to three boys in Milan. I also wanted to add food & wine tours to Italy once my children were grown.
Any advice for anyone looking to take this career path?
Combining what you love into a career, especially when you are the boss, provided it is profitable, can never be a wrong choice! I mean what’s not to like? On my terms, I do what I love, and working from home has always been very convenient for my growing family of, now, four children. My advice to anyone thinking of something similar would be to start taking small steps and only add more products/services when you have perfected the few first steps.
What made you want to write a book, and can you tell us a little bit about it?
The book started as a way to record the first recipes and stories that formed the cooking school. I wanted to document these for my family anyway, and I thought maybe some customers would wish to buy the book as well. The first book was self-published with the help of an online platform. As the print copy demand grew, I quickly hired a graphic designer, creative director, editor, and printer. Our pre-sales sold out the first run of 600 books, and we have since reprinted twice already. The book is currently on www.amazon.ca and www.amazon.com.
How have you been impacted due to COVID-19?
Since the start of the pandemic, we have not scheduled any in-person cooking classes. We developed a professionally produced Online Italian Cooking School due to long waiting lists for our in-person courses. The Online school has more than 30 recipes, 18 videos, five menus, timing schedules, and tips and tricks to buy authentic ingredients. Everything is downloadable except the videos which have unlimited views. The feedback has been excellent, and our students tell us it is more convenient than a Zoom Class as they can complete the classes on their schedule.
Your favorite must-try dish or recipe that you enjoy teaching most?
Risotto, as it mostly about technique. You take simple ingredients and elevate them into something spectacular with just a few simple tips and tricks. 3 Risotto recipes are available in our Online cooking school as well.
You can find Natalina’s book, products, tours here:
- Tours, which we hope to resume in 2021: https://www.natalinaskitchen.com/food-wine-tours/
- Online school is available at https://www.natalinaskitchen.com/online-cooking-classes/
- Cookbook: https://www.amazon.ca/dp/1775061809
Author: Emma Mitro, Lifestyle, Content Writer for The Onside Media, Canada. If you have any stories or comments, kindly email: – [email protected]