As La Bussola marks its 40th Anniversary, it’s time to coax the talented Chef Lauretta Coccaro to take a bow. General Manager, Wine Director and son Luigi Coccaro says, “While Mom is strong in the kitchen, she is rather shy and would rather not step into the limelight.”
Like co-owner and husband Francesco Coccaro, Lauretta was born in the pastoral village of Valle dell’Angelo, Salerno, Italy. It is a serene agricultural setting nestled in the mountains of the Cilento National Park. Here in this Mediterranean climate, the middle of five children, Lauretta learned the family tradition of producing their own olive oil, cheese, produce and other artisan products as farmers. Her love for agriculture continues with many of the ingredients such as zucchini flowers, herbs and tomatoes for the menu coming from her own garden. While she attended a culinary program at college much of her knowledge of making sausage, cheese and other delicacies was learned in the kitchen. This tradition has been carried forward as Luigi and his sister Ersilia learned from their parents, returning almost annually to their grandparents’ home in Italy. Ersilia chose dentistry as a career path and provided a much cherished grandchild.

He adds that Chef Lauretta is a natural with wine and is highly talented at food and wine pairings. She has been head chef at La Bussola since 1990 and while she continued the signature dishes, she has expanded the traditional Italian dining experience to include more local culinary influences. Just recently, the menu has been revised to reflect her role in the innovations and you’ll find dishes such as Lauretta’s Minestrone and Gnocchi alla Lauretta. Next time you’re savouring the award-winning menu that Wine Spectator regularly recognizes for excellence, remember to give thanks to that modest chef preparing each dish with love.

~ Roslyne Buchanan