About The Home Cook

Meet Barbara Padolina

On most days, the kitchen is the likeliest place in which you will find Barbara Padolina. Several years ago, she managed her own full service catering business. Barbara also ran a girls' culinary club for about eight years. These days, some of her most favourite things to do include cooking and baking from scratch, and preparing meals for hungry people (most of whom she gave birth to). Barbara’s culinary adventures continue in her home kitchen in Toronto as Michael’s wife and mom of their 12 children.

What I teach

I teach culinary skills, simply put. However, I do so based on a philosophy of the fundamental importance of the home and family in each person’s life and the significance home cooking has in caring for and loving members of our family. This is why my business is called The Home Cook. I am a home cook myself - have been for more than 26 years - but it also refers to the “style” of cooking that exists in the home. So, on another level, I also teach the importance of the family - more like remind my students of why it is good for them to cook and be mindful of this as an act of love to those for whom they cook.

My experience

From 1996 to 1999, I was a full time caterer, taking food orders and providing the option of full service catering with set-up and waiters. I was the owner, coordinator and one of the main cooks and bakers. My work involved being first point of contact for the client, figuring out the catering requirements, determining pricing, menu-planning, purchasing, cooking and baking, delivery and set-up as well as overall management of the event, if it was full-service.

How I prepare for lessons

I consider the age range of the students, if they have any experience at all in the kitchen or they are totally new to it, and how adventurous they are. I usually start off a series of classes with recipes that are very basic and simple so I can better gauge what the students know to do and how they work. From there, and also considering any recipes they may request to learn, I pick out recipes that will give them a chance to learn and practice some culinary skills which will come in handy for them in their own home kitchen. I know this happens because their moms are very happy to let me know and share pictures and stories of how their children cooked this or that dish at home which we had made in class.

Most fulfilling thing about this job

It is probably knowing or finding out that my students are actually in the kitchen cooking and baking, making delicious food for their family, who are happy to be on the receiving end! Good cooking can lead to happier moments in the family, and I have seen that happen in real life. That brings me a lot of personal and professional joy.