ANNA MARIA FLORIO, the proprietor of La Cucina at the Market, is a Philadelphia native and the daughter of Italian-born parents from the Campania region of Italy. Her family brought their love of food and rich traditions of la cucina with them and Anna grew up speaking Italian in a family where the kitchen was the center of the house. When people came together in their home there was always cooking, talking, laughing and sharing of their passion for food. During her childhood she spent summers in Benevento where she played and worked in the kitchens of family trattorias and cafés.
Fourteen years ago she accepted an invitation to join Temple University Center City (“TUCC”) as an Italian language instructor and began to share her Italian heritage with the Philadelphia community. Her students were lovers of all things Italian and the topic of food was part of every class. Anna wanted to recreate and share the experience of her own family kitchen directly with her students.
About four years ago Anna approached Kevin Wood, the Director of the Continuing Education Department at TUCC, about developing a series that combined food and language. “It seemed a natural segue to combine the two things that are essential to an Italian household: talking and eating. When people are around food they are naturally more relaxed and conversation is inevitable.” TUCC’s first Italian cooking/language class, entitled “Mangiamo in Italiano”, completely sold out. Students said they had a marvelous time and asked for more. In a short time, this became Anna’s signature program for TUCC.
When space in the Reading Terminal Market became available in summer 2007, it was certainly the right time for La Cucina at the Market to be born. “I saw La Cucina as the dynamic location that could bring together urban professionals who happen to be lovers of food with the vibrant venue that is the Reading Terminal Market. I couldn’t think of a better spot to cultivate one’‘s passion for cooking or even join a group of friends to prepare a meal. With the great variety of specialty ingredients available at RTM, La Cucina would offer the perfect place to eat, shop and learn.”
Anna approached Paul Steinke, the Reading Terminal Market manager with the idea of having a space exclusively dedicated to cooking and culinary demonstration. Paul shared Anna’s enthusiasm about the concept and the process began. Both agreed the space should be a lively, warm and inviting space; where people who love food could come together and share their passion, where prominent Philadelphia chefs and other members of the food community could be showcased and where visitors to Philadelphia could experience the vibrant atmosphere of of the Market in a personal way.
As work began Anna was confronted with the challenge of bringing a new face to the space. “I was so pleased to find to find the community embraced my idea. Everyone I approached was excited by the concept and extraordinarily generous in equipping the kitchen.”
Today La Cucina at the Market has a fresh look combining warm hues with sleek stainless thanks to the gracious generosity of its many sponsors including: Airs Appliances and Electrolux, Ikea, Dupont Corporation, Continental Tile Importers, KitchenAid, Ginny Arcari Photograph
Classes began in March, 2008 and continue today. Each month brings new and interesting options and offers lots of opportunities to cultivate your passion for cooking!!