Margherita and Valeria Simili have been making pasta since they were barely old enough to stand. They learnt first by watching their mother in the big kitchen at home in Bologna. They then worked for their father, Armando who owned one of the city’s best bakeries, where they made tortellini and other local specialties in his back room.
In 1972, Marcella Hazan, then in the process of becoming the doyenne of Italian cooking teachers in both Italy and America, and her husband and collaborator Victor, met the sisters at a dinner in Bologna. They were so impressed that when they opened a cooking school in 1976, they hired the sisters to teach. “Margherita in particular was there with me all the time.
Marcella remembers. She is very good with bread, focaccia, pizza, traditional desserts, and of course, pasta. She is wonderful at closing tortellini. Do you know how many she can close in one minute? Forty-four.”
In 1986 the sisters with Marcella’s encouragement and the equipment from her school (which she had by then moved to Venice), opened their own cooking school on the Via San Felice, the same street on which their father’s bakery had once thrived. Last June at the age of 65 (they are fraternal twins); Valeria and Margherita closed their school. They now continue to teach making guest appearances for the most reputable cooking schools around the world.
Their name is well respected in Italy where they made television appearances and were guest chefs of the most exclusive places including:
- Altopalato in Milano
- A Tavola con lo Chef in Roma
- Arcimboldo in Udine and also in Bari and Treviso.
Their fame has also reached the other corner of the world as they have featured in many reputable magazines and newspapers including The New York Times and Savour Magazine in America. Others include books written in Italy and Japan, Cuisine Magazine in New Zealand, New Zealand House and Garden and the New Zealand Herald for their appearance at Luciana Sampogna’s cooking school in Auckland.