In a world of food apps and delivery to your door, a Cambridge private chef is bringing back home-made Italian cooking.
"I'm not trying to compete with any chef, I am just trying to give you the fresh, authentic Italian cuisine that I grew up with," said Daniela Sfara, the owner of Buon Appetito Mercato, who offers private dinners, takeout and pickup.
Sfara said she was cooking before she learned how to walk. One of the first things she learned was how to make lasagna. When it comes to cooking for her business, Sfara focuses on using fresh and high-quality ingredients to make her food.
"Italians are about a slow life and slow food," said Sfara, adding Italian food is easy to make, it just takes time to cook.
Despite coming from a family of food and construction workers, Sfara said she never wanted to become a chef. A jewellery designer by trade for over 20 years, Sfara said she wanted a change and came to Cambridge eight months before the pandemic for a job.
When she was let go from that job during the pandemic, Sfara began cooking for her roommate and got the idea to start cooking for the construction workers who were doing work outside of her home.
"I basically turned my kitchen into a hot table," Sfara said about feeding those construction workers. "They loved it."
This experience led to Sfara to start her business ended up being a 'blessing.' As word spread about her services, Sfara became brand partner and food influencer who is part of the Associazione Professionale Cuochi Italiani of Canada, or Professional Association of Italian Chefs in Canada.
In July, she also incorporated a dinner club which meets monthly at her home. The decision to start a dinner club is inspired by Sfara's childhood as her mother invited strangers to their dinner table for a meal.
"My mother didn't have a lot, but what she had she gave," said Sfara.
Along with the dinner club, Sfara offers trattoria, which is the experience of an at home, traditional Italian lunch or dinner. The experience is available for booking through Air BnB.
Besides creating great food, Sfara aims to provide a great experience for guests. Prior to their arrival, Sfara asks guests about the occasion for their trattoria, if they've visited Italy and other information to help create a unique experience.
"Food is more important than just the dish," said Sfara, adding its ambience, ingredients and history of the food that add to the experience.
Sfara adds the community has been very open to her business and has gotten a lot of love and support. Not knowing what was going to happen with Buon Appetito Mercato, Sfara said it feels amazing to see and hear people's reactions to her work.
"It's a beautiful thing to connect with people through food," said Sfara, adding she has made many friends this way.
While Sfara continues to do some jewellery design work, she said a lot more is to come for her business, including monthly recipes which will be released onto their website. The only catch is these recipes won't include measurements.
"I want to give people an opportunity to learn how to feel," said Sfara. "Cooking is a feeling, cooking is an experience, it is an ambience."
To learn more about Buon Appetito Mercato, go to danielasfara.com.