YORK — The rest of the students have already started drinking when I arrived for my Stonewall Kitchen cooking class a few minutes late.

Very Julia Child, I thought as I slid into a vacant stool in the back row. I’d gunned it down I-95, excited to put on an apron and chop garlic or fry eggplant for the Tuscan Mamas, the instructors for the day. Instead the other 37 pupils were sitting behind high tables, sipping wine or coffee and dipping their forks into the first dish on the luncheon menu we’d be learning how to make, a torta di patate e fagiolini.

The Tuscan Mamas, Mimma Ferrando, left, and Franca Gatteschi, teach a cooking class at Stonewall Kitchen Cooking School in York.

The Tuscan Mamas, Mimma Ferrando, left, and Franca Gatteschi, teach a cooking class at Stonewall Kitchen in York. Gregory Rec photo Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

They looked less eager to learn than eager to eat. And listen raptly to whatever the “Mamas,” Mimma Ferrando and Franca Gatteschi, were saying. The Mamas are longtime friends who teach classes in Chianti where both live in restored villas (there are rooms to rent as well). They’ve been making annual visits to Stonewall since 2008, when a friend suggested them to the then-new school.

But if I’d read the fine print, I’d have known that Stonewall is a demonstration-style cooking program, rather than hands on. The company sponsors classes at its York headquarters, which include the flagship store and manufacturing plant, practically every day, The prices are relatively high, ranging from $50 to $70 in the fall-winter course catalog, but that all made sense to me as I took in the room. The whole place looked like the set of a Nancy Meyers movie and I was being waited on hand and foot by a very capable staff while consuming a four-course lunch. This was entertainment more than it was educational.

In the case of the Tuscan Mamas, comic entertainment at that:

Participants at the Stonewall Kitchen Cooking School in York get to sample the dishes the chefs create. Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

Participants at the Stonewall Kitchen Cooking School in York get to sample the dishes the chefs create. Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

“Mimma, stop eating!” Gatteschi admonished Ferrando as she sampled some of the eggplant Parmesan (which was delicious). Everyone laughed – these two, who sell out every class they teach at Stonewall, in this case four in a row – know how to work a crowd. They teased each other, took turns being adorable and delivered various charmingly accented soliloquys, including one on olive oil and how little of it is truly “extra virgin” and another on trying to sneak Italian rosemary through American customs.

Did I learn anything? There were some useful instructions on preparing eggplants for cooking (salt and leave on a tilted cutting board overnight). I now know I don’t need to make a torta di patate e fagiolini; too bland for my taste. I already knew about the fakery involved with olive oil. But few things make me happier than being fed a nice lunch while two Italians say “Allora” and “Aspetta!” and wave their hands around.

STONEWALL KITCHEN, a packed scheduled of wide-ranging demonstration classes (ie, Kitchen Fundamentals, A Coastal Holiday, Southern Brunch). 2 Stonewall Lane, York, 877-899-8363. stonewallkitchen.com.

Stonewall Kitchen Tuscan Mamas’ Parmigiana di Melanzane

This very casually written recipe says something about the Mamas’ cooking style. To make a low-fat version, fry half of the sliced eggplants and grill the remainder.

Eggplants

Mozzarella

Parmigiano

Tomato sauce

Olive oil

Salt

Peel the eggplants irregularly and cut them into rounds.

Fry them in oil, a few at a time, then transfer them to paper towels to absorb the oil.

Prepare the sauce with peeled tomatoes, garlic and basil (no oil is needed).

In a rectangular baking dish, arrange 1 after the other, layers of sauce, fried eggplants, sliced mozzarella, freshly grated Parmigiano.

Continue layering with the remaining eggplant, sauce, mozzarella and Parmigiano.

Bake uncovered in a medium hot oven for about 40 minutes until the cheese is melted and the sauce is bubbling.