A Katoomba guesthouse that also offers Italian cooking lessons has won a regional business award.
Fifth Avenue Katoomba Retreat is owned and run by Silvana Franze and has just picked up the rural hospital excellence award in the Australian Rural Business Awards.
As well as offering a house that sleeps eight people, she can incorporate southern Italian style cooking lessons.
Ms Franze was excited to receive the award.
"I was thrilled to be announced the winner... This kind of recognition by a panel of judges gives validity to what I've been working on for the past six years.
"It's been a labour of love, one that has evolved organically which is nice, because it means it hasn't been forced. I've put in the hard yards but learnt to also go with the flow. This award will give me the confidence to keep on going."
Ms Franze gives cooking classes to small groups in a relaxing, homely environment - which includes eating the finished products.
Classes range from different types of pasta (gnocchi, ravioli and agnolotti. fettuccine, pappardelle, maltagliata and mafalda) to sauces (Napoli, carbonara, mushroom, pesto), baked foods such as arancini, meatballs and stuffed baked vegetables, all the way to bread, pizza and biscuits
"Delicious home-grown Italian food, familial connection and stimulating conversation are important values in our culture and the primary focus of these intimate gatherings," said Ms Franze.
"Our classes are very engaging and sitting down to a shared meal together is something I don't take for granted.
"We recognise the benefits of making deep human connections by working collectively in a safe and supportive space and the experience can be positively transformative for participants.
"I remember individuals from one particular group who were visibly changed by the experience and asked if they could hug 'Nonna' [her mother] afterwards. I find these responses very rewarding and satisfying, which brings me back to the original motivation in pivoting my small business - keeping our heritage and customs alive, to be passed down to others."
It's a true family affair, with Ms Franze helped by her mother, Maria, and sister, Antonella. Her late father, Francesco, also transformed the large backyard into a Mediterranean-inspired garden, allowing the business to be part of community events such as the Edible Garden Trail.
The awards are presented by Australia's leading online marketplace for rural and regional small businesses, Spend With Us (www.spendwithus.com.au), to celebrate the talent that exists in rural and regional Australia.
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