Toronto woman's home-cooked recipe wins her trip of a lifetime to Italy
Nonna Nerina is one of the hundreds of Airbnb hosts across the world that are sharing their home-cooked recipes to guests. (Airbnb Cooking Experiences)
TORONTO -- A Toronto woman is among 100 home cooks chosen from across the world to learn from food industry experts at an Italian culinary school.
Rianna Ford is among 15 Canadians who were chosen to participate in a one-week summer program at Slow Food University of Gastronomic Sciences (UNISG) in Pollenzo, Italy. Airbnb Cooking Experiences will be hosting the program that will feature classes led by culinary experts such as Momofuku chef and founder David Chang.
"This was off of a whim, I didn’t even think I was going to get accepted,” Ford told CTVNews.ca by telephone, saying she applied after seeing Airbnb’s ad on Instagram.
"It called for home cooks so I thought, ‘Well they're not looking for chefs,’ so I felt safe in that realm. I'm not the most professional home cook but I definitely make ends meet with experimenting in the kitchen, so I thought why not give it a shot,” Ford added.
The recipe that won her a spot in the program and will be featured in Airbnb’s first cookbook was inspired by her Jamaican heritage: a braised oxtail with a wild mushroom risotto and pickled cabbage on top. Ford credits her parents for teaching her the basics of cooking at a young age and fuelling her passion for food.
"Being able to encompass a dish that I’ve been so use to having from them [her parents] and making it myself now makes me glad that I can share that story to other people,” Ford said.
While travelling to Italy is a lifelong dream for Ford, she says she is hopeful the coronavirus outbreak does not stall her opportunity. As of Tuesday, Italian officials have reported more than 300 cases of the COVID-19 disease.
"I'm hoping in due time things will dial down but I don't want that to stop me from going there. I think we can catch sickness anywhere through anything, so it’s just about doing your due diligence and watching your surroundings even though that might be tough,” Ford said.
Ford is currently in school for event planning but says she might consider pursuing a career in the culinary industry after the program.
"I'm hoping with this experience it'll allow me to get more comfortable with my craft. Just knowing that what I have to offer sparked an interest in Airbnb made me think maybe I can spark an interest in other people too. With being a home cook, you really don't need schooling to have an appreciation for food,” she said.