Cooking in a wood-fired oven forces you to slow down and focus on the beauty of your surroundings.It takes some planning and effort to create a crackling fire and even more skill to adjust the logs and maintain the flame. Once you have mastered these skills, however, it is profoundly satisfying to cook outdoors.
Our goal is to expose you to the wonders of woodfired cooking and give you a chance to see how this old-fashioned method can magically transform raw ingredients. We’ll also spend time in our indoor teaching kitchen equipped with a Viking gas oven and a Miele electric oven. So if you don’t have a stone oven on your patio, if you don’t have the patience to wait for logs to catch fire, or if it’s pouring rain and the romance of being outside dims, never fear. We’ll give you the recipes we’ve developed and the techniques you’ll need to make beautiful Italian-inspired food in your own home oven.
We are formally trained teachers with graduate degrees from Boston University, the University of Maine and the University of Connecticut. Between us, we have 50 years of public school teaching experience.
Jillyanna (Jill Strauss) is a published food writer, radio journalist and television chef. She appears regularly during live cooking segments on Portland, Maine's WCSH6 TV. A summa cum laude Johnson & Wales University culinary graduate. Jill has worked in professional restaurant kitchens throughout New England and has studied Italian cooking with famous cookbook author Giuliano Hazan in Verona and fourth-generation pizzaiolo Enzo Coccia in Naples. Jill is also an accomplished public school teacher and for fifteen years taught K-12 students. In 2012, Jill renovated her own private kitchen and picturesque patio to create an elegant indoor and outdoor classroom where she can share her Italian-inspired recipes and wood-fired cooking techniques with students from all over the world.
Valerie founded the Festival of Creative Youth in Portland Maine, a three-week summer program for gifted children that lasted 20 years. When she was not directing the festival, Val served as a beloved public school teacher and respected administrator. Now that she is “retired,” she is happy to be working from home and helping Jill share her passion with others. She is particularly glad to be focusing on Italian food since Valerie is half Italian and cannot let a week go by without making her family’s sauce and meatballs.