Last week, renowned chef Loretta Paganini announced that this would be the last year she holds her annual cooking classes at the Jacaranda. But, she isn't stopping entirely just yet. Paganini, who has developed quite a following on the island, said that she will host a pasta making class at the Sanibel Community House Feb. 4 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., with more programs to follow.
"The kitchen at the Community House is state-of-the-art, it's incredible. It's something we can be proud of on Sanibel. I'm going to do a hands-on class which is something I've always wanted to do for 20 years. We're going to make pasta, Bologna is known for their pasta makers, so I'm going to show them how to do that and then we're going to do more in March. What I promised everyone is that we'll do some next January, too," Paganini said.
For her last year of cooking classes at the Jacaranda, Paganini put together some of her favorite recipes over the years like shrimp tacos with coleslaw dressing, short rib meatballs in pomodoro sauce with fresh mozzarella, lobster ravioli with vodka cream sauce and chicken lettuce wraps.
Chef Loretta Paganini at her Jan. 25 cooking class at the Jacaranda.
Tim McCoy and Roger Mansy also made an appearance during her last week of teaching as well.
Paganini originally began her cooking classes two decades ago, after her friend Donna Miller, invited her down one summer to Sanibel.
"I just fell in love with the whole island and the people, so I started my cooking classes at Timber's and sold out every year. It becomes a learning experience because you get not only recipes, you get to taste everything, you get a lot of know-how, a lot of confidence. It's not just the recipes, it's so much more," Paganini said.
Paganini was born in Bologna, Italy. She credits her family with teaching her how to cook.
"In Italy, where your family owns a business, after you finish with school, you have to automatically in the afternoon, work the business. I worked with my family from the time I was little. My mom's mom was a fantastic baker, I had her, then my mom and then my dad's mom was the best pasta maker," she said.
Paganini opened her cooking school, The Loretta Paganini School of Cooking in Cleveland, Ohio in 1989. In 2005, after a demand for more qualified chefs, she opened the International Culinary Arts and Sciences Institute in Canton, Ohio. Since its opening, the school has graduated 450 students.
Last November, The Daily Meal ranked ICASI as one of the best cooking schools in the country.
"That has inspired us to go for national accreditation. It doesn't sound like a big deal, but it is," Paganini said.
The school also has their own restaurant, Sapore, which opened its doors in 2007.
To say that Paganini is a busy woman is an understatement. In addition to her schools, Paganini has also appeared on many television shows. She has previously been a host on the Discovery Channel's "Simply Gourmet Show," The Morning Exchange" which is based in Cleveland, and countless others.
Paganini also gives gastronomic tours of Italy in the summer, which many of her cooking class participants have already indulged in.
In March, Paganini will release her latest book, "My Sanibel Kitchen," which is an ode to her last 20 years on Sanibel.