CHELSEA — Dozens of local students rolled up their sleeves and shouted "buon appetito" at Chelsea Market on Thursday at a pasta-making class led by a 76-year-old master.
The 35 apron-clad Italian language students from Harlem's Corpus Christi School kneaded pasta dough and mixed up filling for their very own handmade Italian ravioli at Giovanni Rana Pastificio & Cucina, taught by Rana himself.
The class was part of an ongoing program by the Italian American Committee on Education to teach kids to "Eat Healthy and Speak Italian" — or Mangia Sano e Parla Italiano.
"We are Italian, we love food, we love our language," said Rana's daughter-in-law Antonella, who led the class with him. "We're so happy and proud to be sharing our culture."
Rana, who's been making pasta for more than 50 years, opened the restaurant in November and has produced Italian specialties for grocery stores around the country.
The kids mixed flour and egg to make a ravioli dough, and made two kinds of stuffed pasta: one filled with ricotta, spinach and Parmigiano Reggiano, and a chocolate ravioli filled with chocolate, hazelnut and marscapone cheese.
The delighted kids were able to put their language and culinary skills to the test, learning the Italian words for the ingredients and tools they were using and cutting out square, circle and heart-shaped chunks of pasta.
Giovanni Rana — whose English is a little rusty — described the joy of making pasta with the 12- and 13-year-old students.
"I'm sorry, my English is as rough as a rolling pin," he said through his daughter-in-law's translation. "But I'm very happy and proud to have you guys here — when I started making fresh pasta, I was your age."
Wednesday's class was the first of six taking place over the course of the next school year and bringing in students from around the tri-state area.
Berardo Paradiso, who leads the IACE, said that the program is meant not only to help kids learn how to make their own fresh food, but to get them interested in learning about Italian culture and the language. It's run along with the organization's other programs — including one that takes kids to the opera, and another that brings them on tours of a Ferrari showroom.
"One of the ways to attract children to our language is to make it cool," he said.