The Anna Tasca Lanza Cooking School has existed for almost thirty years and was founded by my mother, Anna Tasca Lanza, in 1989. The cooking school is located within the Tasca d'Almerita family estate, which is known for its fine wines. It was believed, at first, that the school kitchen for my mother was to be nothing more than a pleasant pastime. However, within a few years, the name of Anna Tasca Lanza acquired an incredible reputation in Europe and the United States. In the nineties, Anna wrote and published two books published in the U.S. on Sicilian cuisine, "revealing" to the American public the beauty of a land and a world unfortunately hitherto known only for the "Godfather". Anna directed the school until a few years ago, with the help of Venceslao, my father, an expert in Sicilian history and extraordinary storytelling. In 2006 I, her only child, started first to join her on trips abroad and then within Sicily. My mother and I traveled part of the path together, a short but intense trip. My mother passed away in July of 2010 and left me with endless pride with which to continue her mission, the wonderful gift of her passion and her work.
Anna Tasca Lanza
Anna Tasca Lanza was the first of four children, born Tasca, married to a Lanza, and has always lived in Palermo. At 15 she was sent to L’Ecole Ménagère de Lausanne Briamond, where she learned some notions of French cuisine and, basically, how to be a good wife. Back home after two years, was immediately put to the test with the preparation of classic cheese puffs. This was her debut as a cook in the family! In 1959 she married Venceslao Lanza di Mazzarino, the scion of one of the noblest families on the island. In 1961 she gave birth to her only daughter, Fabrizia. In 1989, Anna, with the help and support of her parents, the now established wine producers Giuseppe and Franca Tasca, put together a small cooking school at Regaleali, the family winery. The idea was to spread Sicilian home cooking to America, where she was immediately greeted with great enthusiasm. In 1898 the first group of American students arrived. Within a few years Anna knew and worked with stars of international cuisine, such as Julia Child, James Beard, Alice Waters, Carol Field, Robert Mondavi, the Coppolas. Anna went on to publish two books in America, Heart of Sicily and Flavours of Sicily, which introduced the author to the American public as the Marcella Hazan of Sicilian cuisine. Her lectures and demonstrations were presented by the Smithsonian, by James Beard, by Cipriani, by the Culinary Institute of America. Anna was also invited to several talk shows and radio programs, and traveled annually to promote Sicilian cuisine across America-- from New York to Portland and San Francisco, from New Orleans to Las Vegas and Vancouver. In 1998, in addition to her inaugural speech, Anna also delivered the commencement speech at the Culinary Institute of America, the world’s most prestigious cooking school, in which she made a speech launching these young American students into their future career! Gastronomica has covered Anna’s efforts, and articles about her appear in Gourmet, Saveur, and Food and Wine as well as magazines around the world, including Sweden, Denmark, Poland, Russia, China, India and Korea. In addition to the United States, Anna lead the promotion of Sicilian cuisine in Hong Kong, in India with her daughter Fabrizia, in the UK, Malta, and Canada. In addition to two American books published by Mondadori entitled "Sicily in the Kitchen", Anna also released two self-published books on herbs and fruits. Anna associated her passion for the kitchen with her passion for flowers and the beautiful garden/orchard where she grew endangered species and wild herbs that had been collected in the fields.
Fabrizia Lanza was born in Palermo on 8 March 1961. Feeling asphyxiated on the island, she left Sicily at 18 years old. She wanted to make her life outside of a protected and sheltered nest. She graduated with a literature degree in Art History and worked for twenty years in the museum world. Fabrizia went on to organize exhibits and to write, directing, at the end of her career, two small town museums in Feltre, located within the province of Belluno. At 45 she ended her life as an art historian and decided to move back to Sicily. Anna needed help, and Fabrizia’s food-impassioned roots were calling! The first step was to support Anna in Travel: Fabrizia set off for Delhi, Malta, London, Paris, New York, Boston, Philadelphia. Anna introduced Fabrizia to her American audience in 2007 and before long Fabrizia found herself speaking about Sicilian ritualistic foods at a conference at Boston University. Fabrizia slowly took matters into her own hands, helping Anna at the school, with travel, with the set up of school programs, with creating new contacts. Meanwhile, she was still studying and researching -- Sicily is a continent in terms of culinary traditions, and some are still amazingly intact. Fabrizia then went on to produce two small video documentaries on food cooked for the feast of St. Joseph and that of Saint Lucia. Then, in the company of two friends and botanical anthropologists, she began to study the Aeolian processes and created the foundations for what will become an archive of videos focusing on the techniques of foods in danger of extinction. She has filmed those elderly cooks who still knot, fry and knead their dough. Fabrizia has since begun to travel independently to the United States to produce events focusing on Sicilian cuisine in the best restaurants on the East and West Coast. These have included Alice Water’s Chez Panisse and Mario Batali's restaurant, to mention only the most famous. Nowadays, Fabrizia receives and teaches young talented chefs at the school, teaches annually at the Masters in Gastronomy at Boston University, and hosts interns who work for her at her cooking school. Currently, she is writing a book on the history of olive oil for the publishing house Reaktion. She is also following in her mother’s footsteps in curating a "vegetable garden" of citrus and antique roses.