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Sunshine Manitto
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I have been a chef for many years, worked a lot in restaurants and had one of my own. This was my real cooking school, working hard in restaurants, it is to this experience that I owe my current professionalism.
And it is thanks to my hard-earned years in restaurants that some time ago I made a decision: to change my life and my work. Stress had robbed me of the pleasure of cooking, it was time to take a step forward on the road to the art of cooking, I felt I wanted to share and humanise what I had learnt until then. So I started teaching Tuscan and Italian cuisine more generally, since local cuisines in our country are daughters and sometimes cousins of one great way of creating and eating food.
Immediately I was presented with several opportunities to express myself exactly as I wanted, as my heart told me. Things changed immediately and a world opened up before me. Now I do work that brings me joy and creates joy in others. I always say that to make a good dish, it is essential to cook with joy: remember that food is vital matter, positive energy in the kitchen is essential to achieve a good balance in life.

What gives me pleasure in my cooking is to excite people: a dish must be presented well but above all it must open the heart, it must transmit vitality. And for this it is essential to cook with passion and love. Which is impossible without humility in the kitchen, a very rare trait in a chef. You know, the word chef already makes one's head spin a little, and then the world is full of culinary competitions to see who can create the most unusual dish and find the most innovative combinations, or even who can create the ingredients in a laboratory, thus downgrading the eternal one and only great larder of our tables, Nature! I like to call myself a cook, or even more a cuciniere, because of the central idea that this word preserves of cooking for a large number of people. I love the contact with the raw material, the ingredients, and the ultimate recipients, the palates.

My great lover has always been cooking, but only Tuscan cuisine has really given me so much, it has allowed me to grow and to deeply understand its origins and ancient flavour through its peculiar Renaissance characteristics. Tuscan cuisine is perhaps one of the most complete cuisines in the world: we have mountains, beautiful hills, verdant valleys and fertile plains, the sea, countryside close to the sea, lakes, rivers... In just a few kilometres, the landscape changes and with it its fantastic products and the way of cooking them.

I believe that traditional, home cooking is the only one that, through the creation of each individual dish on a menu, generates harmony between the ingredients and the people cooking. For me, the cooking class is not a field to demonstrate one's superior skill or power, but a wonderful game of bringing people together in a wonderful, mutual exchange. Food, when cooked with love and passion, is a great means of communication for people. Tuscan cuisine lends itself well to this purpose: I keep verifying that trying to understand its alchemy together step by step creates a strong bond between the participants in the lessons. Just try to imagine a crowded kitchen, full of people laughing, working, kneading, cooking, while fragrances, genuine smells, the sounds of pots and pans, joy are released; try to imagine and feel this familiar environment, here, this is true Tuscan cooking, surrounded by nature, accompanied by excellent wine to warm the heart, in good company while everything flows pleasantly together.

The most gratifying moment for me is to be at the table with my guests and to see in their faces their simple happiness as they enjoy the lunch we have all cooked together...Believe me, it is a great beauty to be at the table with people who are different from one another in tasty harmony!

Thanks to these types of lessons I have been able to improve myself as a cook and as a person, and I am aware of how important this work is for my life and my growth, not only professionally but also as a human being: I love my work very much, I have many projects to realise, for me cooking is evolution.

I have been lucky enough to work in tune with chefs of long experience, who gave me lessons in life and food at the same time, wonderful experiences. But my one and only true master was Angelo Parodi, who passed on to me the basics of Italian cuisine and made me realise that cooking is my path. My heartfelt thanks go to him and to all my guests, who are a great stimulus for me in cooking and in life.

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