Most days you can smell the delectable delicacies wafting across the patio before you even step foot into the shop. Once inside, the only way to describe what happens next is a sensory explosion: your taste buds start to tingle with excitement, your nose twitches with anticipation, and you instantly know your eyes are bigger than your stomach.
Sierra Chef in Genoa is a place that really does have something for everyone. Cooking classes? Yes, for anything you could possibly want to know how to cook. Fresh baked Italian treats? Yes. Small batch chocolates and fresh cannoli? You bet. Signature spice mix? You can see where this is going by now 🙂 There’s even an espresso machine for that mid afternoon pick-me-up.
Walking into the small but mighty store you’re likely greeted by Cynthia Ferris-Bennett, proprietress and food mastermind behind Sierra Chef, often with a Sconalini sample and always with a smile. She and her talented team of food lovers create and share everything food related, ‘from soup to nuts’ as the saying goes.
I was lucky enough to experience a food lovers dream: homemade lobster ravioli cooking class! Always the hostess with the mostess, Cynthia started us off with a glass of wine and a caprese salad with farmers market fresh tomatoes and basil, and homemade mozzarella. Once we had our fill it was time to get down to business. Measure out the semolina flour and forget a bowl, just go ahead and pour it right on the table. Bare handed we worked in the eggs with a little water and in no time flat we have our pasta dough.
Luckily for us, the kitchen is decked out with a dizzying array of appliances and attachments. Cynthia called these “cheaters,” but we were thankful as we sipped our wine. We took our dough balls and fed them through the pasta roller a few times. The transformation between the before and after is so fun to watch! Any leftover dough gets made into basil fettuccine noodles (which is super fun to do), so everyone leaves a winner.
Back at the table we mix up a bowl full of ricotta and parmesan cheese, garlic and more garlic, fresh thyme, and of course lobster. Once the filling is ready to go, we prep our ravioli filler. Half the sheet of dough goes on first, then the form stretches the dough so we can fill it with the good stuff. Plop the filling in the pouch, then gently lay the second half of the dough sheet over the top, pass a roller over everything a few times and bam! Dinner is almost ready.
After sauteing the ravioli (start with the round side down) in oil and butter, we sprinkled more cheese and pinenuts over the delectable goodness. Gooey and tasty we were so happy to have leftovers to bring home. The leftover dough gets made into basil fettuccine noodles (which is super fun to do), so everyone leaves a winner. Then came the best news: fresh baked cookies for us to sample! I have lots of food allergies, but this doesn’t bother Cynthia, she knows how to feed people who can’t eat wheat, dairy etc. The cookies were gluten free, and featured lavender. Pair that with an after dinner espresso and we were ready to roll ourselves out the door.
While you’ve got the semblance of a recipe here, the very best way to cook is firsthand in a fun place with fun people who make it a memorable experience. Whether you’re looking to take a cooking class, get yourself something to nosh on outside on the patio, or take to eat at an outdoor concert, do yourself a favor and stop by Sierra Chef in Genoa. They serve tasty goodies every day from 9am – 5pm. Check out their event lineup for patio dinners in the summer, farmers market May-September, kids cooking camps, the annual Bevie and Nosh festival in October, and of course cooking classes to keep you busy all year round.