Thanks to this family upbringing, in a 1960s and ‘70s world free from computer games and cable TV, Stefano became intrinsically tied to Italian food, cooked in authentic ways, and life in and around the kitchen. Although he studied Law at the University of Bologna, that was never his destiny. After around seven months of practising law after his graduation, he took the bold decision to abandon the legal profession, follow his heart and open his own restaurant.
This restaurant – an elegant and expensive venue, patronised by many of the top officials and business people in Bologna – became hugely successful and well-known, thanks to its fine cuisine and exceptional food creations devised and cooked by its owner. Stefano put heart and soul into making this restaurant succeed and, as it grew, he was able to employ a manager and many staff. With that came an emotional divorce. Stefano was no longer connected to food in the same way, having to focus on business issues and administration, and not on the thing he loved most – cooking.
Consequently, after nearly six years, Stefano sold up and bought another business that would involve him in the cooking process once more. Fittingly, for a man so tied to Artusi and the origins of authentic Italian food, he bought the most ancient restaurant in Bologna – a venue named ‘Il Rosso’ since its foundation, and which has been in the same building it occupies today, since 1868. Based in Via Augusto Righi, close to Via dell’Indipendenza, the University quarter and the heart of the city, Stefano recognised that, what was then a run-down restaurant, could cater for the needs of locals, students and tourists alike. He elected to turn the venue into a traditional Bologna trattoria, which would serve great value, excellently cooked and authentic Italian food.
Trattoria Il Rosso has gone from strength to strength over the years. Stefano has since acquired a second eatery in Bologna, which is another great success. However, growth has led to the need for a managerial structure and Stefano faced the possibility of again being divorced from the cookery process. Rather than suffer that fate a second time, he elected to do something different and open a state-of-the-art cookery school, not in a home kitchen as so many are in Bologna and Italy, but in its own well-equipped and bespoke zone in the heart of the Trattoria.
In this way, CIBO – the Culinary Institute of Bologna – was born in 2012 and has broken the mould when it comes to Bologna-based cookery schools. Its success has been profound, with Stefano attracting passionate foodies from all around the world to his cookery school. It now holds classes every day and its growth has enabled Stefano to allow others, who are passionate about food, find their true vocation in life.
Stefano’s approach is to employ tutors who share his devotion to authentic Italian cooking and who are not chefs, but people with great brains and the ability to think about food in fresh and exciting ways. While they share his passion, they also complement his talents and ways of approaching training, providing the food lovers coming to his school with an excellent all-round and immersive food experience, whether they stay for an hour, three days, or even longer.
Stefano’s Style of Culinary Tuition
Signor Corvucci’s style of tuition is eclectic and, at the same time, comprehensive. The word ‘recipe’ is almost banned at CIBO, as he is determined to teach foodies new skills, rather than focusing on a prescriptive approach that sees them leave with just the ability to cook one or two dishes. You will learn how to handle a chef’s knife at CIBO, but there will never be a knife skills course: Stefano will tell you that his granny had only one knife her entire life and still managed to turn out exquisite food!
He will also openly admit that he makes things up as he goes along in the kitchen and that no two courses are the same, because everything starts with the food and his connectivity to it. As a day starts with a trip to the market, to buy what they have on the stall that day and what is in season, he does not know what food will arrive in the cookery school, until it is gloriously displayed on the work surface. From there, he, the other tutors and delegates, will together decide what ingredients to use, which dishes to create, which culinary techniques to use and how to present the food. Delegates work to the tune of inspiration and creativity, not to the monotonous and dull instruction of a recipe. They leave with transferable skills and indelible memories.
Not surprisingly, Stefano adopts the style of his father, being another food racconteur in the kitchen and talking throughout the cookery process, adding vivacity to the process – even at times a little unpredictability – that makes the session zing. He describes himself as a culinary ‘surfer’, creating links between the food being handled and lifestyle, culture, music, history and the arts. In Stefano’s world, food is at the centre of everything.
By establishing a great rapport with foodies from around the world, Stefano has been invited to cook in private homes in the USA, not to mention staging cookery demonstrations in locations such as The Mall at Short Hills, New Jersey. He’s also created a branch of training that sees him tutoring sous chefs, in their own restaurants and in their own country, teaching them not just the authentic way to cook Italian food, but also skills such as menu planning, front of house service and how to run a trattoria-style operation. He is keen to do more of this type of training and speaks English fluently.
Italian Food Personality, Demonstration Chef & Dietary Needs Course Tutor
Stefano is now establishing himself as a food personality and someone who can be an inspirational guest chef at food festivals, catering and lifestyle events and food and drink exhibitions, with the UK now offering new and exciting possibilities for this type of personal appearance.
On home soil, in Bologna, he is using his skills to assist the patients of a nutritionist, who need to know how to create and cook dishes that suit their dietary needs. In this way, he is spending time in the kitchen with coeliacs and other people with conditions such as diabetes, heart issues and angina, allergies, high cholesterol, migraines and a myriad of other issues, teaching them how to adapt their repertoire of dishes, alter ingredients and components of their food, and cook meals that may be gluten-free, dairy-free, salt-free, low-fat, low in sugar … or many other things.
Being married to a vegetarian psychologist may assist with some of the things Stefano tackles. One thing, for sure, is that his teenage children, Federico and Cecilia, have become intoxicated for his passion for food and are themselves destined to be great cooks. Stefano’s mother can be found managing the trattoria operation at times, while his father lives on the border of Emilia-Romagna and Tuscany and still goes out hunting and creating food stories to tell in the kitchen.
The Culinary Institute of Bologna – CIBO – is a dynamic and inspirational cookery school, in the Italian city best known for its food, thanks to the background and personality of its head, Stefano Corvucci. No doubt Pellegrino Artusi would approve.