San Jose’s Italian American Heritage Foundation (IAHF) has launched a delicious lineup of cooking classes. The first class on pasta has already been held, but there’s some good stuff on tap.

Viola Buitoni, chef and member of Italy’s Buitoni pasta-making family, leads two sessions, May 5 and 12, on the history and healthy benefits of a Mediterranean diet and what you need for a well-stocked Italian pantry. She is the Julia Child of Italian cooking and will be the highlight of the culinary series. Each evening, you will have the opportunity to taste one of her creations and bring home Viola’s list of pantry items for future reference.

On June 9, Massimo Chisessi, IAHF’s culinary program curator, will teach a one-night course on how to make limoncello, a lemon-infused liqueur. Participants will go home with one of Chisessi’s liqueurs in a decorative bottle.

Chinessi came up with the idea for the culinary series as a way to learn more about his Italian heritage and to connect with a wider Silicon Valley audience. “I saw it is a way of reaching out to the community at large,” he said. “The way that Italians share their cultural heritage is through food. Food is a conduit for relationships.”

July 14 is all about tomatoes. While not native to Italy, the tomato has become central to Italian cuisine. In this panel discussion, participants will learn about the history and mythology of the tomato. The evening will include discussion of the selection and cultivation of heirloom varieties that flourish in Silicon Valley as well as traditional and innovative preservation techniques. After the panel discussion, you’ll get to taste your way through 10-12 types of heirloom tomatoes.

For more information about these classes and other Italian events, go to