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Episode 40 – Get to know us better

We reached the 40th episode of our podcast “Cooking with an Italian Accent”! So it’s time to celebrate and to recap what we’ve done so far in these 15 months spent together, what you liked the most, why we love this podcast so much and how it perfectly integrates in all that we do.

We’ll talk also about who we are, what we like and what is going to happen soon in our lives! Join us for a little celebration!

Juls’ Kitchen as a blog was born on a cold night, it was February the 1st, 2009. It was just a way to channel my love for food into something personal, a way to do something for me, as at the time I didn’t like my job. I had a four-year apprenticeship contract in an association whose aim was to promote the culture of extra virgin olive oil. I worked just a 20-minute drive from home, a 9to5 job that left me plenty of time to invest in my dreams.
Well, at the beginning I didn’t know those were my dreams, I thought it was just another transient passion. In two years, though, the dreams became projects, and when they decided not to renew my contract, I celebrated with some blogger friends who had joined me for the weekend from all over Europe. December the 15th, 2011 was my last day at work: that night I had a book launch in Florence, to celebrate my first cookbook, My grandma’s recipes, a little book which is now out of print, but that made me understand what I was truly passionate about.
2012 was the year of change, when I could dedicate 100% of my time to Juls’ Kitchen. I actually took it literally, I dived into this project with dedication, I wrote my second cookbook, worked for a magazine, and used every single moment of my time to learn, explore, experiment. I spent my holidays in London with dear friends to learn more about blogging, food photography and food writing. I probably spread myself too thin, but I was 31 years old, still living with my parents – this is very Italian, isn’t it? – no mortgage to pay, no boyfriend in sight. It was the right moment, it felt right, even though it came when the overall European economic situation was everything but encouraging. But I’ve always thought that a crisis opens new scenarios for those who dare to try.
At the end of that year I was exhausted, I desperately needed some social life, so when I received an invitation to join a pizza dinner in Florence with some people I knew from Twitter, I said yes. Driving to Florence that night, I saw a shooting star. I thought it could be a good sign, probably something exciting was about to happen. I forgot about that shooting star for a few months, though.
That night I met Tommaso and we became friends. A few days later, I joined these new friends for my first holidays in the mountains as a grown-up, to celebrate New Year’s Eve together. To cut a long story short, the following summer Tommaso and I became more than friends. He always says he was impressed by my genuine love for food. One of the episodes he likes to tell is about that time when I invited him and a couple of other friends for dinner, when I prepared a hamburger, starting from ground meat. I talked about this in the second episode of this podcast, mentioning also how during the first months of our relationship I was always feeding him for dinner leftovers from my cooking classes. That’s when my mum told me I’d better change the menu of my classes if I wanted to keep Tommaso as a boyfriend.
Soon after we had become a couple, Tommaso began helping me with Juls’ Kitchen, as he was already working in a communication agency as a social media specialist. He was also an amateur photographer and a tech enthusiast. After less than two years, during the Spring of 2015, we moved together here in the countryside, and we also started working officially together. 
If the blog originated from my enthusiasm for food, quickly followed by a newly born love for writing and photography, what is Juls’ Kitchen now is due to our cooperation, to our way of working together. Each of us brings his own perspective into the business, our own different personality, our passion and talent.

Take this podcast, for example.
Even though I had been listening to podcasts for a few years – while I was walking on the treadmill at the gym or while I was testing recipes in the kitchen – it was Tommaso who convinced me to start working on one. It took him several months before I embraced the idea, eventually giving in and admitting it was actually brilliant.

This perfectly reflects our relationship.
I’m always scared by novelties, as I like to define myself a bit old-fashioned. I’m still in love with the blog I started 11 years ago, still fascinated by the process of writing a long post, still convinced this is where our main and most important content should be. Even though Tommaso agrees on this aspect, he is also drawn by new medias, as he can see their potential for our business. Moreover, he sees my potential, he knows that I could be good at something well before I even start thinking about it, he knows I will eventually enjoy it. It usually takes him time to slowly dismantle my insecurities, the impostor syndrome, the fear of change. Brick by brick, he gets me there, where I can see the same potential.
I did the same with our online cooking classes, postponing the project for almost a year, until the lockdown came and we had to find a plan B. After a few videos, I had to admit it was actually fun, and another efficient way to share our passion for food, to share those reliable recipes that are part of my cooking repertoire.

This is what this podcast is about, too. Now I’m going to share some of the highlights from the previous 39 episodes, the themes we mostly enjoyed working on, the most successful episodes, the guests we had and the recipes we cooked together step by step.

We talked about books, as cookbooks are one of my passions, or should I say addictions? In the 27th episode I told you about my favourite Christmas cookbook, Nigel Slater’s The Christmas Chronicles, and in the 30th episode about the one book every home cook or food enthusiast should have, Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat, by Samin Nosrat. The last episode, the 39th, is about the three books of Italian cooking you should consider having. If you enjoyed these episodes, stay tuned because we will talk more about cookbooks soon.

We had special episodes when I recorded conversations with friends about cooking, books and Tuscany. The most recent is the 37th episode with Regula Ysewijn, about her book Oats in the North, Wheat from the South, and about the British baking traditions.
In the 26th episode we talked with Myriam Sabolla, a Milan based communication strategist, a food coach and a keen cook, about Milan and its food scene.
I thoroughly enjoyed the conversation we had in the 21st episode with Juliana Lopez May, an Argentinian chef and cooking instructor, a cocinera, as she defines herself, about the deep connection existing in between the Italian food culture and the Argentinian food culture.
Judy Witts Francini, my mentor for cooking classes and longtime friend, was the protagonist of the 10th episode, and Luisa Cipolla, owner of the agriturismo Il Rigo, told us everything about working and living in an agriturismo in Val d’Orcia, and growing flowers, in the 16th episode. For the olive oil geeks, then, the 24th episode is a must, a conversation with Paolo Pruneti from the Frantoio Pruneti, an olive oil mill in the Chianti region. My first guest was Tessa Kiros: the 6th episode is the recording of a live conversation we had in Florence last year, talking about books, inspiration, writing and food.

Seasonality is one of the most recurrent themes of this podcast, as it is also my guiding light when it comes to cooking, developing recipes and shopping.
We celebrated the citrus season in the 31st episode and the grape harvest season in the 20th episode.
Three of the most appreciated episodes from last year are the 14th, Eating during the summer heatwave, the 15th, Fragments of Summer and seasonal effortless cooking, and the 17th, Preserving the season: Summer, all about summer easy recipes and preserves. It is the perfect moment to listen to those episodes again, if you are searching for some seasonal inspiration.

Food memories and traditions are another important theme in this podcast, and from your feedback something you really appreciate, too. One of the very first episodes had to be about Tuscan bread: you can listen to my ode to stale bread in the 3rd episode.
We explored the street food in Tuscany in the 9th episode and the typical Tuscan food markets in the 5th episode: if you want to travel to Tuscany with your imagination, igniting your senses and tickling your appetite, these are the episodes to listen to right now.
Speaking about traditions and culture, don’t miss the 23rd episode about A Tuscan pantry and the 25th about the Italian love for overcooked vegetables. In the 36th episode we explored how we learn to cook, thanks to the tips of foodie friends and colleagues. 

There have been episodes when we cooked along: these have been some of the most satisfying episodes to record, because we were able to share the original sounds captured in the kitchen, and you told us you were instantly drawn in the kitchen to cook. We made together a zuppa inglese in the 13th episode and a ricotta crumb cake in the 19th episode.

While I was going through the past episodes to give you some of the highlights, I realized that there are so many new themes I’d love to tackle for you, so many people I’d love to have here as our guests to talk about their career, their cookbooks, their approach to food and life. Writing a podcast episode is very similar to writing a post for the blog, and indeed some exist at the same time as blog posts and podcast episodes. But the most successful episodes have something more: they are intimate, they begin a conversation, they bring us closer. This is what the best podcasts do.
During this unprecedented time, when we were stuck in the countryside for the Italian lockdown, and in the following weeks, when I still felt not confident enough to go back to my previous life, I found solace in a few podcasts, like Radio Cherry Bombe, Motherfood, by Alissa Timoshkina, Wild Words, by Nicole Gulotta, and Keep Calm and Cook on, by Julia Turshen, because they opened my mind, they kept me company during lone walks along my favourite country lane, they inspired me and made me think. I hope our podcast was helpful and inspiring for you, too, as these have been for me.

So there’s so much to do, to work on, to study, to discover and taste, and we are excited to do this together. It will be an exciting summer for us for many reasons. Not for the holidays that we had to cancel, and you’ll soon discover why, but for what is awaiting for us, in between a slice of crisp watermelon and a tomato salad.

So now to the big news.
In less than two months, we’ll give birth to our first child, a baby girl, who will join our family of four – two human beings and two adored rescue dogs.
In the past months we kept it private, to live it in an intimate dimension. The lockdown definitely helped in this, as I barely exited the house, except for doctor visits, blood tests and my daily walks in the countryside. We did miss the opportunity to share the news in person with family and friends, I missed the croissant and cappuccino at the café after my blood tests, or the pleasure of walking into a baby store and just dream about what she would look like with one of those tiny clothes.
But on the other side, this downtime gave us time, and space, to fully live the pregnancy: I had lots of naps in the afternoon, we had long sleeping nights, we ate good food, cooked from scratch, on a daily basis, with tons of fresh vegetables and fruit. We had time to think about our future, redefining our priorities, our business goals. We were not influenced by external imposed needs: I basically wore the same clothes up until the seventh month, when I was forced to buy a larger t-shirt, a loose dress and a two pairs of pregnancy leggings. That’s it.
We often wonder how this will baby change our lives. I have to be honest, I don’t know. I’m scared and excited. Scared because our private life and business life are already coexisting in a fragile balance. Excited, because whenever we are hit by a storm, we find new resources, a fearless inspiration to evolve.
We’ll have to wait till the very end of August to meet her. This means facing the hottest months of the sultry Italian summer with an ever-expanding baby bump, swollen legs and short breath. For once, not having classes – which means not spending hours standing in the kitchen – looks like a blessing. This will leave room to more writing and podcasting, but also to planning her arrival into our lives, folding tiny clothes, painting her room, freezing nourishing food for the upcoming months and giving extra cuddles to our two dogs to prepare them for her, too.

How long have you been listening to our podcast? Do you have a favourite episode? Share it with us via email or on Instagram, using the hashtag #cookingwithanitalianaccant and tagging @julskitchen.

And an enormous thank you also to the other people who joined our podcast in these months:
https://www.instagram.com/miakouppa
https://www.instagram.com/irina.r.georgescu
https://www.instagram.com/ashafsk
https://www.instagram.com/ernythamrinyoga
https://www.instagram.com/sarkababicka
https://www.instagram.com/cosnutritionist
https://www.instagram.com/jlinford
https://www.instagram.com/domenicacooks
https://www.instagram.com/asmallkitcheningenoa
https://www.instagram.com/italyonmymind

And a special mention to the always inspiring:
https://www.instagram.com/nigellalawson
https://www.instagram.com/amandahesser
https://www.instagram.com/nikisegnit

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Join our Virtual Tuscan Cooking Class

Juls’ Kitchen is a family business. Tommaso and I work together to teach classes, develop recipes for clients, taking photos, producing the podcast, and writing the blog and the newsletter, along with cookbooks and articles. It has its highs and lows, but this is our job, and career. We do not have a backup plan, and, to be honest, after the hard work it took to get where we are, I do not want to change my job, as this is what brings me joy, what I am good at. That’s why we had to rethink our offer to change it according to the completely new situation.
 
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the Italian lockdown, we had to suspend our cooking classes for the moment. As we are missing people joining us in the kitchen and we’re missing sharing food and recipes, we launched a virtual Tuscan cooking course!
 
I am sure we will be back teaching classes in our cooking studio in the countryside, meeting people at the local café to begin the market tour, working for clients and brands to create recipes and organizing workshops and gatherings, but for the moment, we had to find a compromise. A compromise which is revealing itself rewarding, fun, and something we will keep for the future in our business plan! This is how our virtual cooking class was born.
 
With this course you will join me in my kitchen, attending step-by-step cooking demonstrations to show you exactly how to prepare each recipe. We’re going to use simple, affordable ingredients. You’ll learn recipes to make antipasti (appetisers), primi (fresh pasta from scratch like tagliatelle and ravioli), secondi (traditional meat and fish dishes), contorni (seasonal side dishes) and dolci (my famous olive oil cake, but also crostate and almond biscotti).
 
We are uploading new videos almost every week and we are open to your ideas and requests!
The recipes we mentioned in this episode:
Episode 39 – Three books about Italian cooking you must have
Juliana Lopez May
Episode 21 – In Conversation with Juliana Lopez May
Episode 37 – In conversation with: Regula Ysewijn
Freshly pressed olive oil
Episode 24 – In conversation with: Frantoio Pruneti about Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Episode 26 – Milan, foodie tips to explore the city, with Myriam Sabolla
Episode 30 – (cook)book review: “Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat” by Samin Nosrat
citrus season podcast
Episode 31 – Celebrating the citrus season
Episode 27 – My favourite Christmas cookbook: Nigel Slater’s The Christmas Chronicles

Have you made one of our recipes?

If you make one of our recipes, Snap a pic and tag @julskitchen and hashtag it #myseasonaltable. We love to see your creations on Instagram, Facebook, & Twitter! Join the fun of our Facebook Group Cooking with Juls’ Kitchen, too.

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