the Ital­ian job

Made in Italy Italy’ss Silv Silvia via Col­loca is the new queen o of the cucina


SILVIA Col­loca is cheek­ily mock­ing hip­sters and their new- found love of ‘ fad’ foods such as kale and spelt.

The beau­ti­ful evan­ge­list for Ital­ian cui­sine and SBS tele­vi­sion’s newly crowned cook­ing queen laughs at how her birth coun­try’s “peas­ant tra­di­tions have been gen­tri­fied and ‘ hip­ster- ised’ and all of a sud­den they’re fancy and cost a for­tune”.

“Ev­ery­one is fall­ing in love with kale at the mo­ment, or spelt and it makes me smile be­cause th­ese vegetables, th­ese an­cient grains … we’ve en­joyed in Italy for a long, long time,” she says.

She punc­tu­ates the con­ver­sa­tion with a wry smile and an Ital­ians- doit- bet­ter shrug – not cocky but sassy – just one more rea­son to fall for this tal­ented and straight- talk­ing cook.

As she tells it, her rise as Aus­tralia’s an­swer to Nigella was more ac­ci­dent than grand am­bi­tion.

Born out of her bore­dom dur­ing ma­ter­nity leave with her sec­ond son to Rake star Richard Roxburgh, the for­mer model and ac­tor found an in­stant fol­low­ing for her food blog fea­tur­ing her Ital­ian fam­ily’s recipes.

The cy­ber suc­cess lead to one cook­book, Silvia’s Cucina and now another, Made In Italy with Silvia

Col­loca ( Pen­guin/ Lan­tern), to sit along­side her first SBS cook­ing se­ries.

Trav­el­ling back to her home coun­try – tour­ing Abruzzo, Molise and Le Marche – ear­lier this year, was an emo­tional jour­ney for Col­loca, who cooks from the heart, with a side help­ing of good hu­mour.

“It was re­ally hi­lar­i­ous,” she says. “We in­vaded the vil­lage where my mum is from, called Tori­cella Peligna, a very small vil­lage up in the moun­tains of Abruzzo. Mum was born there, but then she moved to Mi­lan when she was about 12.

“I got so many peo­ple in­volved, most of my fam­ily are in the show in­clud­ing my two kids, my mum, my dad. My dad can’t cook to save his life but I got him to cook in the show, which was fab­u­lous.”

Cel­e­brat­ing her culi­nary her­itage is both a pas­sion and a po­lit­i­cal state­ment for the 37- year- old, who is a liv­ing tes­ta­ment to the ben­e­fits of an au­then­tic Mediter­ranean diet.

“The way Ital­ian food is of­ten por­trayed is that it is over- in­dul­gent and all op­u­lent, creamy sauces but re­ally we leave those dishes to spe­cial oc­ca­sions only. That’s my ex­pe­ri­ence any­way. I lived there un­til I was 28. You’d have a plate of broc­coli and a slice of bread and that was lunch.”

It sounds sim­ple enough, but the dishes served up in this lus­cious 10part se­ries are any­thing but ba­sic and should leave gourmets sali­vat­ing.

Take episode one, where Col­loca learns how to make zuppa di cozze ( mus­sels in white wine broth); uses more wine to cre­ate a lo­cal spe­cial­ity, pollo potac­chio ( chicken in a pot); vis­its a 17th cen­tury farm­house to try her hand at cook­ing olive all’ascolana ( stuffed fried olives); and then shares an old fam­ily recipe for mac­cheroni alla chi­tarra con fiori di zucca e zaf­fer­ano ( home­made spaghetti with zuc­chini blos­soms and saf­fron sauce).

This is one TV show which should come with a warn­ing: when too much is never enough.

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