Laura Panerese: From Canada to Ravenna

This is a story of when being passionate about food becomes a hobby and then a full time profession: this is what happened to Laura Panerese. Born in Salento, a successful manager in Canada and today a personal chef by trade in Ravenna and across the whole of Emilia Romagna. 

all photo credits by benedetta bassanelli

It started young, between the four walls of her home, watching her mother and grandmother prepare orecchiette with sauce: small and simple gestures which then and continues today to transmit family and cultural origins and traditions. 

The Panarese family had moved to Switzerland and then, together with her mother, Laura returned to Salento where after schooling she went on holiday to Canada. Enchanted by what the country could offer, she decided to stay in North America and complete her university studies there, “if you were to compare to Salento, the first thing that struck me was the amount of space that was all around. Everything was undisturbed, you were constantly finding new things, seeing new things all at the same time.” 

Working for a multinational organisation, she became a visual manager, with a certain professional fame that accompanied her work and frequently travelling around the world for her efforts but, Canadian food had nothing of particular identity, or noteworthy in the flavour department. A return to tradition and the past, an Italian palate that became not only a personal go to, but one for her colleagues and friends; it is here where the lightbulb finally switched on and the thought that this could become a full time job. 

“I’ve always enjoyed cooking for others, thinking about all the smaller details, organising meals that become inevitably small events and so I decided to change direction: leave Canada, my work as a manager which gave me a lot and start from the beginning; invest in myself and change my life perspective.”

So it was around 10 years ago that Laura, together with her husband and daughter move to Italy, to Ravenna, and here, a new life begins. She begins by attending and studying catering courses, attending the school of Gualtiero Marchesi, another by Igles Corelli, works in restaurants and decides bit by bit to follow a personal training course which takes her into the world of personal chef for private clients, Italians and foreigners, paying specific attention to all the details in a personal way. 

“If someone asks me to organise an event I think of everything; from setting up the location to the final mise en place of the dish; I like to take care of those who rely on me and my professionalism.”

For Laura every event has the same importance: whether it is cooking for the Canadian Prime Minister, greek clients or the 18th birthday for a prince; everyone receives the same attention and importantly the same care that goes into every menu and meal. It all starts with a creative process learnt from years in art school. 

“Before I create a dish, I start with a drawing and then I test it on my family. My husband and daughter are very proud of me and they support everything I do, this is very important for me.” 

One dish that is always on her menu is, risotto. 

“I love rice and at every event in which I am called to cook I never miss my risotto cooked on sight; for those who have had the luck like me to attend and get to know the maestro Gualtiero Marchese, he knows the importance of creaming, a fundamental step for the success of a good risotto. One of my favorites is the one