twlmhorizontal lr3


A Passion for Mushrooms! Classes at La Cucina Di Sandra

Seasonality of food is a major trend these days, and we are indulging now in all things "mushroom". Autumn is mushroom season and at this time of year funghi takes a starring role at Richmond Italian cooking school La Cucina di Sandra, providing a touch of luxury and the ultimate savoury note for dishes for cooler days. Aussies are discovering that mushrooms are much more than just the common Button mushrooms! There's Shiitake to be discovered! And Pine mushrooms! And Porcini!

Sandra is running A Passion For Mushrooms! cooking classes in May, June and July so you can create the ultimate Italian mushroom pasta dishes. Go online to book for the class.

Italians are crazy about their mushrooms and until recently many of the top shelf mushrooms at markets were imported from overseas. We are now seeing more Australian specialty mushrooms at markets. In her mushroom cooking classes Sandra cooks dishes that are a combination of the cuisine of Central Italy, Umbria, Tuscany and a blend from other regions.

Says Sandra, "Mushrooms are an intrinsic part of Italian cuisine but you don’t have to have fresh Porcini to experience the lusciousness of a three course mushroom feast. The finger food, entrée and main course will all be mushroom based. In this class I will show you how to make the most of their deep flavour in a creative way which goes beyond the ubiquitous mushroom risotto! You will leave this class with a new repertoire of brilliant funghi dishes to share with your friends."

We caught up with Damian Pike from the Wild Mushroom Specialist at Prahran Markets, where Sandra personally sources her premium mushrooms.


The World Loves Melbourne drooled over the Porcini here, with Porcini sourced from South Australia (we can't find out where of course) at $200 a kilo (so worth it!). Damian tells us that these Porcini are found among 250 year old trees and have an amazing flavour. 

The mushroom eye candy extended to Portobello and Slippery Jacks.

Even Horse mushrooms from Central Victoria are magnificent eating.

With the weather not as conducive as it might have been for mushrooms, some varieties are likely to proliferate after Mother's Day. (By the way, Mother's Day is a kind of benchmark date in the mushroom world.) Usually you can expect the first decent batch of Pine mushrooms just before Mother's Day.

Damian Pike is a stalwart of Prahran Markets having started off selling just a few Button mushrooms back in the day - he tells us that when he first imported four packets of shiitake mushrooms he sold one packet initially and ate the other three himself. Business was slow. Now with the explosion in foodie culture, his business thrives all through the year. In August he starts to import more mushrooms from Italy and France. Mushrooms are imported from across Europe and even from Canada, to be sold along with premium Australian mushrooms.


Damian has an exotic mushroom section that beckons the foodie.

Of course mushrooms have a health benefit for Melbournians with plenty of vitamin D. As the weather here is unpredictable in autumn and winter (let alone the rest of the year) a healthy dose of mushrooms can give you that boost of vitamin D you might not get from the sun alone.


What are La Cucina Di Sandra’s classes about?

  • Classes are interactive demonstrations, held at my home in Richmond
  • I cater for a minimum of 4 people to a maximum of 8 people
  • You will be welcomed into my home to enjoy a three course meal with a complimentary glass of wine, plus finger food before the meal
  • Informal and highly entertaining, you will see each course prepared, cooked and then served at the dining table

How do I book?

  • If you wish to book any of my classes please email
    This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

    or you can call Sandra on 0419 503 805 or 03 9421 1883
  • Parking is available in Lyndhurst Street and also in Shaw St in Richmond, where there are no parking restrictions