Connecting Kitchens & Communities


Article by Laura Hartmann

Photography by Sammi Burdo

Who likes pasta? That's probably a silly question, right?

It's probably one of those universal food items that 90% of the world loves. It can be utilized to accommodate almost every dietary restriction when made appropriately, repurposed with a variety of sauces, pestos, or serving styles, fills your belly AND your soul, and most importantly, is typically a WIN for your kids at dinner time. You get to eat it out of a bowl, and have tons of fun pasta designs and shapes to choose from making it visually appealing as well.

It's a starter dish, it's the main dish, or it can be a side dish. Let's face it, pasta is an anytime dish.

The best part, if you are not vegan, you get to grate cheese ALL over the top of it. Yes please!

As I write this I'm mentally scheduling in my mind our next family dinner out to my favorite local Italian restaurant, Il Pescatore. Their Tortellini Di Stefano might be one of my all-time favorite Italian dishes right next to the Cacio de Pepe that Chef Vincent Cani teaches his audience to make on his EvolVIN Foods YouTube channel.

On my personal bucket list of life "to-dos," is to go to Italy for a vacation and enjoy nothing but pasta the entire time, intermixed with pizza slices, garlic knots, and lots of chianti. I'll get there one day.

However in the meantime, if I'm not eating out locally, making pasta at home is one of my favorite go-tos to cook for all of the above and obvious reasons. It doesn't have to be boring or bland though right? Thank goodness the Central Florida area has a new solution for sourcing handcrafted fresh pasta to utilize in your own kitchen.

Meet Samantha, "Sammi" Burdo, of Mia Cucina Products and Cucina Amateur Food Blog

She's a young, self-trained home cook with Italian/Sicilian blood, setting the foundation for her knowledge, technique, and soulful passion for cooking. After being laid off from her full-time job handling resort sales, she realized her love for cooking might finally make its debut as something more than just a passion.

Sammi started a food blog, Cucina Amateur, following her initial furlough, as a way to share her connection with food. She has built a community platform, centric to staying true to your roots and finding yourself inside a kitchen. Turning to her art history knowledge and background, her blog naturally began to take shape as a portfolio for her work. This platform has now helped her land a few guest cooking opportunities and is the perfect home for selling her product line, Mia Cucina, where one can purchase a variety of handmade fresh pasta, and other Italian favorites.

Most important to Sammi though, is her impact on the local area, and how she can contribute and pioneer a culture of connecting kitchens, and chefs, to their communities. For Sammi, this concept and mentality is a movement.

Have I mentioned she's only 24 years old? Start following this young lady now because she's on her way to being a change maker.

I am the sole proprietor of my business and brand. Everything is made and done by me. I do like to pull in local cooks/chefs and that community is something I will always be an advocate for. The culinary community and its sub-families are everything. There is nothing quite comparable. -Sammi

I asked Sammi to "serve up" some advice for cooking at home and how to connect your kitchen to the community. Here's what she said:

1) Trust Your Senses

I’ve been learning to trust the use of my senses in the kitchen and to use them while I cook. When I say use them, I mean with intent and with observance. So tasting is more than just tasting because it will spark thought and direct my next move. Cooking is a dance and your body, and the kitchen is part of it.

2) Keep It Clean

When you’re cooking in the kitchen, CLEAN as you go. Trust me.

3) Shop Local

Helping our communities become strong, secure, colorful, and to grow starts with each of us. One of my favorite sayings is “there is unity in diversity.” Take the city of Orlando and surrounding towns for example. There is endless diversity to explore in its people and businesses. Because of that, there is an inherent bond and tie amongst the residents here. Plus, taking the time to support individuals and families who are giving their all in doing what they love is both humbling and a gift as it provides us with unique experiences and/or products we can’t get anywhere else.

If you have an interest in purchasing from my online store, thank you so much! Cucina Amateur and Mia Cucina are open to all people far and wide (*in the Central Florida area). It’s a communal space and place of enjoyment for all food lovers and lovers of cooking. If you have an interest in purchasing products, but are maybe not the most “kitchen savvy,” fear not! I provide directional cards with each order to give you a guide on how to cook the products. Hey, we’re in this together!-Sammi

One of her most-requested menu items from the Chent’annos event with SubRosa was the Sardinian “Longevity” Minestrone.

She ended up creating a blog post with the recipe due to the high demand. Check it out!

Most recently Sammi has been a return guest chef supporting the Subrosa Dining Experience team, helping to bring to life their secret pop-up dining experiences. She's also started her own private dining concepts that you can learn more about on her website as well as how to order her handcrafted pasta and Italian ingredients.

To learn more about how Sammi transitioned from her full-time position to now bringing her culinary dreams to life following an unexpected lay-off, you can read her Light Bulb Moment interview HERE by H&F Redefined.

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