Barilla Cooking Demonstration With Chef Marco Olcese

4 Feb

Last December I shared a post about Barilla’s offer for free cooking classes and on Wednesday night I went along with mum. Approximately 20 people attended – mostly couples and pairs of women (friends, sisters etc). Mum and I were greeted by a charming Italian man as we entered the pleasantly air conditioned Casa Barilla and we filled in a form before helping ourselves to a bottle of chilled San Pelegrino, gourmet cheese and grissini.

We took our seats and chef Marco Olcese introduced himself – he flew down from Queensland to host some classes at Casa Barilla. Marco described his cooking style as authentic and true to simple, traditional flavours with little emphasis on bold presentation.

We were given handouts of the 2 recipes that Marco cooked:

Warm fusilli pasta salad with marinated cherry tomatoes, salted ricotta and rocket leaves

Penne rigate “Ligurian style” with prawns and pesto Genovese

Cooking is second nature to Marco and he usually measures by sight, taste and touch. The rock salt was measured by hand and sprinkled into the boiling pot of pasta water like precious crystals that would sink to the floor of a bubbling spring and dissolve leaving only a salty taste.

Marco’s passion for pasta was infectious as he took great care in cooking the pasta for just the right amount of time to achieve the perfect al dente texture. In between chopping, slicing, dicing and stirring, Marco shared stories about the Italian way of life revolving around food and family.

Marco is concerned that the traditional way of cooking is even changing in Italy with too many chefs trying to wow customers using strange flavour combinations that lack balance and real flavour.

I must say I tasted the most amazing pizza in Italy with minimal toppings, a thin base and it was just delicious. In particular I remember a mushroom pizza with only about 6 paper thin shavings of mushroom and it lacked nothing. Why do we need to go over the top with ridiculous chunky toppings and pineapple! Save that for fruit salad for goodness sake!

The class went for 2 hours and we had a great time. On our way out we purchased some bags for $10 each and worth $30. The fabric Barilla bags contained 2 packets of pasta, 2 jars of sauce, 1 apron, 1 coffee mug and 1 spoon rest.

For more information on the free cooking classes, visit Barilla’s website.

Here are some of the upcoming classes held at Casa Barilla:


Tue 22nd Feb 6pm – 8.30pm

Wed 23rd Feb 6pm – 8.30pm



Wed 2nd Mar 6pm – 8.30pm

Thu 3rd Mar 6pm – 8.30pm


Italian Easter

Tue 12th Apr 6pm – 8.30pm

Wed 13th Apr 6pm – 8.30pm


Mother’s Day Special

Sat 7th May 11am – 1.30pm

Tue 10th May 6pm – 8pm



Wed 1st Jun 6pm – 8.30pm

Thu 2nd Jun 6pm – 8.30pm



$90 per person


What’s included:

Prosecco and antipasto on arrival

All food and a glass of wine with the meal

Goodie bag to take home


Each class takes a maximum of 16 people.

For bookings and enquiries contact Silvia

t: (02) 8585 3911


Casa Barilla

4 Annandale St

Annandale, NSW

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