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About me and the Caponatina Lab project

Caponatina Lab was born from my history, starting from the scent of wild herbs and freshly picked vegetables to the culinary experiences I have enjoyed traveling around Italy.

I’m Alice, and I grew up in a small mountain community in Northern Italy near Lago di Idro, a lake about an hour north of Brescia, a city in Lombardy located east of Milan.

At my childhood home, my family raised chickens and cultivated a large vegetable garden that also housed a few fruit trees. Since before I was born, my father worked as a beekeeper, producing honey and pollen.

Nature played a large role in my childhood. I grew up surrounded by the aroma of flowers and honey every summer while the crackling fireplace and the scent of moss were synonymous with my winters.

The excellent cooking of my mother, aunt, and grandmother has infused my DNA with indelible food memories. I recall the thrill of kneeling on a chair to make pan di spagna (sponge cake) alongside my mom when I was only three years old and sneaking spoonfuls of the ravioli filling when I was just barely tall enough to reach the table.

When I was eight years old, I prepared my first dinner with freshly picked produce from our garden—a meal I’ll always remember. It was a simple bruschetta topped with vegetables and condiments, but with distinct, natural flavors. That vibrancy coupled with the satisfaction of having prepared it myself for my parents forever impacted my relationship with both food and the harmony between products of the terroir and the kitchen. Hence the name Caponatina Lab, which is derived from caponata, a preparation of chopped vegetables.

Yet cooking wasn’t my only interest. My mother advised me to enroll in hotel school, but l wanted to devote my career to helping others, so I pursued a degree in social work. During my studies, I worked at restaurants, bars, and catering companies for a few years to support myself. I loved these jobs even though they were only temporary.

I continued my studies, specializing in psychomotricity and then going on to work with children, parents, and professionals in the childhood field. In 2013, I founded Emmi's Care, an association dedicated to promoting the well-being of children and adults inspired by the work of Emmi Pikler, a renowned pediatrician. These incredible years were full of difficulties and immense joy, special relationships, and innovative projects crafted from hard work and commitment.

In the meantime, I never lost my passion for cooking, and I cooked every chance I could get—for myself, my partner, family, friends. I enjoy creating special moments for the people I love most or boosting the spirits of those who still want to eat well while following restrictive diets for health reasons.

Every day the difficulties of my job grew heavier, and I slowly came to realize how my creative and dynamic nature was left unfilled due to some of the characteristics of my work sector.

Then my life changed. My husband started to spend more and more time in California’s Silicon Valley for work, and I traveled there with him. I used the time to reflect on my life and think about the direction in which it was headed—and doing so in one of the world’s most motivating and creative places is a powerful stimulus.

Then everything stopped. In February 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic gripped Italy. During the subsequent months, Brescia, where I had lived for the last 18 years, took one of the hardest hits. The city’s silence was broken only by the high-pitched ambulance sirens, a sound that provided anything but peace of mind. However, if there’s a silver lining to the difficult times, it’s that they prompt us to examine our lives and get them in order.

I started taking small steps toward seriously realizing my passion, driven by the desire to actualize it overseas by sharing Italian cuisine’s characteristic joy and warmth with the world.

With the Caponatina Lab project, I wish to promote Italian culture through its food by rediscovering forgotten regional recipes and home-cooked Sunday lunch dishes while preserving Italian tradition.

Caponatina Lab was born from my history, starting from the scent of wild herbs and freshly picked vegetables to the culinary experiences I have enjoyed traveling around Italy.

My roots have never felt as alive and strong as they do today.

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