South Knoxville private chef teaches Italian cuisine at Ama.Mi Kitchen
Amalia Brusati di Settala was a fashion buyer in Milan for many years, but she began to feel exhausted and decided to change careers.
Brusati di Settala grew up in Italy watching his grandmothers, Angelina and Liliana, cook the family’s favorite regional dishes. So she enrolled in an intensive professional cooking program at the Food Genius Academy.
Six years ago, she met her husband, Jace Perkerson, who was attending a conference in Milan, and after years of back and forth, Brusati di Settala emigrated to the United States.
“It was a very romantic long distance story; he couldn’t move to Italy because of his job, so I decided to move to Knoxville, ”she said. The couple married in March 2020 and recently bought their first home together in South Knoxville.
Before leaving Italy, Brusati di Settala took evening classes at the Associazione Italiana Sommelier to learn how to pair the perfect glass of wine with a meal and to organize Airbnb dining experiences on weekends.
She started Ama.Mi. Kitchen in Knoxville. Ama is the abbreviation of Amalia and Mi for Milan, and ‘Amami’ is Italian for ‘love me’.
“I am a private chef and teach Italian cooking,” said Brusati di Settala. “I just worked as a consultant to create the menu for Osteria Stella, a new authentic Italian restaurant in Knoxville…
“Spreading my passion for Italian cuisine (beyond pasta and pizza) is my mission,” she said. “Sharing moments of cooking, having fun with hands full of flour, glasses full of wine and happy hearts, that’s what cooking means to me.”
Brusati di Settala enjoys nature and the outdoors in East Tennessee, and she has discovered a very supportive community here. “Milan is very competitive and there is not that much support between companies,” she said.
Cooking also helped relieve homesickness. “I cook at home as much as I can. The smells of food bring me back to my parents and grandparents, ”she said.
The Airbnb dining experience, which she plans to start again in Knoxville, is a mix between dinner and a cooking class. “We make a great appetizer with bread from scratch and lots of good cheese and cold cuts, a Milanese risotto,” she said. “I show them each step and do a tiramisu – it’s very interactive.”
Italian cuisine is simple and prepared with a few good-quality, fresh ingredients, according to Brusati di Settala.
“Most of the time, Italian food is covered in sauces and rich in cheese here,” she said. “I was working with a chef here and he was surprised that just three ingredients make an amazing dish. You can make an amazing salad with a simple dressing of oil, vinegar, and salt.
While Brusati di Settala waited for her green card, she focused on building her website. At the end of the summer, she plans to spend six weeks in Italy to gather more culinary inspiration and share the experience via her Instagram account @ ama.mi.kitchen.
“I plan to start classes in person after this and have social dinners – inviting people who don’t know each other and maybe Airbnb experiences,” she said. “I was the private chef for a small family wedding and I have two more booked in the fall.”
For this kind of event, Busati di Settala made arancini, fresh focaccia, appetizers, cold meats, onion frittata, mixed salad, semolina pasta with Ragu Bolognese, chicken and peppers with tiramisu to finish.
“For us, we go to weddings because we love people, but it’s mostly about the food,” she said with a laugh.