The team at Better Reading love to cook (and eat), and we were thrilled to chat to renowned chef Gennaro Contaldo. As well as appearing with Antonio Carluccio as Two Greedy Italians, he’s the author of several Italian cookbooks and his newest, Gennaro’s Italian Bakery, is full of mouthwatering recipes for Italian baked goods, whether it’s the perfect dough, his famed focaccia or a sweet surprise. We’re getting hungry just thinking about it…
We spoke to Gennaro about his favourite foods and recipes (including his ideal pizza), getting kids in the kitchen, and where he and Jamie Oliver are headed for a new TV show!
BR: What 3 ingredients could you not live or cook without?
OC: Olive oil, garlic, tomatoes
Local salami and cheeses from my home in Amalfi served with home-preserved vegetables and good homemade bread. To follow some spaghetti with a simple tomato sauce made from fresh ripe cherry tomatoes, garlic & basil. And for dessert a sfogliatella (typical Neapolitan pastry filled with ricotta) and of course a nice espresso.
BR: You live in Sydney, what would your favourite restaurant be?
Azuma for excellent Japanese.
BR: What is your easy to go dinner party menu?
A selection of Italian cured meats, served with an agrodolce of peppers & focaccia. Followed by risotto with truffle. For dessert, some mixed berries with a limoncello-infused mascarpone cream.
BR: Which other chefs inspire you?
Everyone says I taught Jamie Oliver to cook Italian, but over the years, I have learned a lot from him.
BR: What’s a great recipe to get kids in the kitchen?
Anything to do with baking! Kids love to get their hands messy so making dough is always a favourite. So pizza is always a winner and kids love to choose their own toppings. Biscuits are good too and they love experimenting with different shapes.
My favourite is the classic Margherita – tomatoes, mozzarella and basil. When you have good dough and good topping ingredients you don’t need anything else, although I like to add a little chilli to give it a bit of a kick!
BR: Other than cooking, what do you like to in your spare time?
In season, I like to go foraging for mushrooms as well as go fishing and hunting. At home, I enjoy whittling my sticks which I always give away as presents to friends
What’s up next for you?
Filming in Italy with Jamie for a new TV show – I’m so excited I can’t wait!!