Healthy Eating Never Looked So Good
Della Terra, Snohomish
Just over a year ago, I made the switch from eating out of cans and boxes to eating out of the ground. Not being an amazing cook at the time, I had no idea what I was doing when my CSA Box from Klesick’s Farm arrived every week. I didn’t even know what some of the vegetables that came were, let alone what to do with them.
I didn’t get discouraged though, We became a house full of recipe magazines from the store and cookbooks I picked up from local shops, in addition to spending countless hours on google. From the start though, I knew my creative side would never let me make what I found as is. Every recipe I saw, I was always thinking “what can I add or use from that.” More importantly, I was thinking, how can I “local” this dish up.
So, it would seem, I wasn’t necessarily a bad cook after all. I had the right ideas, and now I had the right ingredients. In the months since, I have a few go to recipes that my family enjoys time and time again. I’m still experimenting as well. There are definitely some things that I’ve struggled with and I was beyond excited when I stumbled upon the classes taught by Della Terra.
As luck would have it, they seemed to be exactly what I was needing help with, like making bread and pasta, and especially sauces. I’ve attempted all three, and while not (always) bad, my attempts have never been quite right either. I can’t wait to take each class, and up my techniques so that I can master each from scratch.
The best part though is Chef Cody’s farm to table style. My health issues require from scratch cooking, as fresh as possible, as well as organic and GMO free. Those kinds of things aren’t easy to find in most recipes, For me, that has meant having to find recipes to make ingredients in other recipes. I get the feeling that, with a bit of help from Cody, I won’t have to do that anymore.
Della Terra offers more than just cooking classes though. You can also take part in evenings full of course after course of good food, often paired with something local that helps expand your horizons. They do catering as well (I may have to take advantage of that).
Behind ever good meal is a good chef. I got the opportunity to pick owner Chef Cody Castiglia’s brain about how he got into cooking and his mission to include fresh, local, and sustainable ingredients in his dishes.
How did you learn to cook initially, or over the years? Were you self-taught, went to school, or learned from other chefs?
All of the above. I learned a lot from my family, but needed to branch out on my own and continue to learn and grow. I studied culinary arts and then hotel/restaurant management, more of the business side of things. From there, I went on to work under some incredible chefs from New York, to Dallas, to here. School taught the basic techniques, but working under different chefs is really where I learned the most.
How did local and sustainable ingredients become a part of your cooking and why is using them important to you?
I left my management job for a low paying job under the best chef I could learn from. I ended up at a restaurant called CraVing, back home in New York. We made everything from scratch, including charcuterie, pastas, breads, and all pantry items. The chef/owner would just order whatever the local farms had available. It was like a Top Chef challenge every week.
I was amazed at how simple the food was at CraVing. When food is sourced locally, with the highest standards, picked at the optimal time, you don’t have to do much to it. I was amazed the first time I tasted a local, organic carrot. It was kind of an awakening.. Like “wow, that’s what a carrot is supposed to taste like.”
What inspires the dishes or meals you create?
Like the chef at CraVing, I start off with just sourcing whatever is available from the local farms. That idea is a total 180 from the popular control freak chef mentality. From there, I draw a lot on the wisdom gained from the chefs I’ve worked under, and my family’s heritage. I try to balance flavors: acidity, sweetness, and textures. Four or five perfect, complementary ingredients on a plate is always better than 13 mediocre ones.
Can your classes help even the worst cook make an amazing meal?
Yes! Absolutely. We teach techniques instead of recipes, which I believe is much more valuable. When you know basic knife skills, or how to braise, or how pasta dough should feel when it is properly kneaded, the possibilities are endless and now you’re able to branch out, experiment, and cook without needing a recipe.
Follow along with Della Terra on Facebook HERE to keep up on current classes and dinners.
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Single issues can be bought HERE and annual subscriptions, which include exclusive giveaways and discounts, can be signed up for HERE. Finally, a limited number of printed copies are available at The Chic Boatique, Artisans Mercantile, and Tried & True Boutique in Snohomish and Reclaimed Heart in Arlington, Vintage Company No. 7 in Bothell, Dahlia’s Vintage Marketplace on Camano Island, Rustic Redemption in Granite Falls, and Vintage & Rust in Monroe.