IN MY PANTRY
The Italian chef who mentored Jamie Oliver shares his favourite feasts
You might recognise Gennaro Contaldo from Jamie Oliver’s cooking shows – this colourful character taught a then 19-year-old Jamie everything he knows about Italian food, back when he was fresh from catering college. Now Gennaro – in his own right an acclaimed TV chef, author and restaurateur – has released a new cookbook, Fast Cook Italian, which aims to teach home cooks how to make his best-loved delicacies in 40 minutes or less.
The 69-year-old Amalfi native and father-of-five sat down with Woman’s Day to share his kitchen secrets, as well as the ingredients he simply can’t live without…
Who inspired your love of cooking?
I grew up with food all around me. My parents, aunts, sisters, and friends talked about food and cooking all the time. What's your kitchen like? e? In my home in London I have two kitchens. One is a modern, functional one chosen by my wife. The second econd – my favourite – is the one e outside, which I had built t specially with a wood-fired oven, wood stove and barbecue, which I love ve to fire up for special occasions or when n making bread.
What kitchen tool can't you live without?
A good knife.
What Italian meals do you love to cook?
Pasta or risotto is always a winner, with most people, and it’s easy to feed a crowd. I love making antipasto-type dishes too, which you can easily make in no time. And they’re ideal for sharing.
What is your favourite meal to eat?
I love fish and seafood, especially when I’m back home in Italy where the produce is so fresh. Not only light and nutritious, but fish is quick to cook and can be enjoyed on its own with lots of lemon, or in pasta and risotto dishes.
What advice would you give someone who wants to cook more Italian at home?
Go for it! Italian food is all about simplicity and a few good ingredients. Make sure you stock up with some basics and the rest is easy – just follow my quick and easy recipes in my Fast Cook Italian book.
Gennaro and one of his five children. He says Jamie is the sixth!