The Viral Cooking Class in Sorrento

Scrolling through Sorrento and Amalfi Coast on TikTok, it’s a skill not to land on at least one video of this viral cooking class. And while there are times when TikTok viral recommendations are questionable, this is not one of those times. It’s heart-warming to see this family-run farm having its moment and each merit it receives as ‘the best cooking class’ is truly deserved.

You can find my feeble attempt at a TikTok here.

How to Book

You can either book directly with Penisola Experience online, or you can book through Viator, we chose the latter. There was no real decision-making behind this, we knew we wanted to book a Sorrento cooking class, and it just happened that the one we booked was in fact the viral TikTok sensation. We paid £83 each which allowed us to cancel for free until the day before.

There are two times available to book – morning and afternoon. We booked the afternoon session that started at 5:30 p.m. so we could make the most of our time in Sorrento. This turned out to be a great decision because the sunset we witnessed at the family villa was like no other.

Getting There

Reliant on public transport, it was a bit of a relief to learn that they provide transport for 10 euros per person each way. They do however only pick up and drop off in Sorrento itself. We were picked up at 4:45 p.m. near the Hotel Plaza, ready for the 11.5km (7 ish miles) drive to the family villa. There is no obligation to use this mode of transport, you’re free to get yourself there and back however you wish. We paid the 20 euros in cash at the end of the class – more on that later.

The Cooking Class

We were met by larger-than-life Cristiano, who before leading us further into the home explained the difference between Amalfi and Sorrento’s lemons residing in their gardens. Trying not to be distracted by the sea view, we each received our apron and hat, washed our hands, and ushered into the kitchen. We each had our own hand towel to use throughout the evening.

One long marble table ran down the centre of the room, clearly catering to the large Italian family with the XL TV on one wall (to watch football he tells us) and wine rack on the other – but perfectly situated to house the 20 or so wannabe chefs! Cristiano explained the schedule for the evening over a cup of espresso, a cleverly thought-out detail whilst we refrained from tinkering with the ingredients in front of us.

Then it was time to get stuck in! Starting with… dessert? We began making none other than a Tiramisu, since it would need a couple of hours in the fridge, it made sense for us to start our culinary experience with this. Slow and steady right?

Course One: Tiramisu

We marked our names on the ceramic dishes, that were available to purchase after – another nice detail. Cristiano explained the correct technique for dipping the cat tongue biscuits into the coffee liqueur, 1, 2, 3.. ouuttttt! No mississippi’s here. Then we layered the drenched biscuits with mascarpone like a happy little lasagna and set our creations aside to be placed in a fridge elsewhere.

After washing our hands, Cristiano had a glint of trouble in his eye as he lined us up to be handfed the rest of the mascarpone – head back, close your eyes, and off you go – delicious. Ice considerably broken, it was time for the next course.

Sorrento cooking class with Penisola Experience

Course Two: Gnocchi

What sets this cooking class apart from others is that Cristiano provides a jovial approach to traditional recipes, without losing the appreciation for the art. Such as, having us compete as two teams to mash the most potatoes whilst making the least mess possible. We lost.

With a pile of mashed potatoes, Cristiano ‘made it rain’ with the two types of flour required to turn it into the gnocchi we know and live, taking the time to explain the ratios of flour to potato. It required some time to settle, so we turned our attention to course number three.

Course Three: Aubergine Parmigiana

A labour of love, the sauce and aubergine were provided – I imagine it would be quite the logistics nightmare having 20 novices trying to fry slices of aubergine! So instead we each laid an aubergine sandwich in the dish – sauce, aubergine, mozzarella, aubergine, sauce then cheese. This way, we still had a hand in putting the dish together. Wash hands, then back to the Gnocchi.


Cristiano’s mother expertly kneaded the dough, whilst explaining the origins of the dish and the techniques required. Before long, we were being tossed blobs of dough to start crafting the gnocchi shapes ourselves. Some better than others, we filled up a plate that was then added to the pot cooking outside until all the dough had been used.

Feeling pretty chuffed with our achievements, we washed our hands and enjoyed a glass of wine to the setting sun on the terrace whilst Cristiano finished off the dish with hand-picked basil from the garden.

Dinner is Served

By the time we returned to the kitchen, the space had been transformed into a number of small tables that allowed us to share our indulgences with our other chefs. Water was available throughout the experience, and there were further bottles of wine on the table.

I can quite honestly say, that the food was some of, if not, the best food we had during our time on the Amalfi Coast – and we dined in some 5* restaurants. Whether it was the pleasure of the experience in making it or the simple fact that the ingredients were natural and homemade, I cannot say only that you’ll need to try it for yourselves.

Before it was time to depart, we enjoyed some homemade limoncello and it was time to regain our possessions. It was here that we had the opportunity to purchase cooking utensils, wine and other items (in cash), I went with a little espresso cup but I was very tempted by a tiramisu dish. We were given our chef’s licence – a nice touch and it was time to board the minibus back to Sorrento.

Grandmother’s Recipes

It’s clear that this family has impeccable pride in their culture, traditions, and recipes. In fact, the Grandmother’s recipes are soon to be released as a cookbook and we were offered a free electronic version once available. There was no compromise on food hygiene and safety, we were constantly washing our hands, and every part of the process had been meticulously planned.

If you do nothing else whilst in Sorrento, be sure to book this cooking class.

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