Five minutes with Gennaro Contaldo
We asked Italian chef Gennaro Contaldo seven foodie questions to see how he’d fare on a desert island. Find out the meal he’d miss the most, the person he’d take with him and his one star ingredient…
What’s the first recipe you learned to cook?
I’m not quite sure – food was all around me while I was growing up and I loved watching my mother, aunts and sisters cooking. Even my father was an exceptional cook! I do remember my father’s cuttlefish with olives and capers and the day he asked me to keep an eye on it, stir it carefully and let him know when it was cooked.
What’s your first memory of food?
The most vivid food memories I have are the ones when all the family gathered around my grandfather’s table on Sundays for a day of feasting when we would share delicious food cooked by various members of the family. It’s so important to enjoy food with friends and loved ones – it bonds and unites people.
As an Italian I am passionate about food and drink and eating together. That’s why I’m so looking forward to Trattoria Birra Moretti so I can share some of my favourite recipes with everyone. Birra Moretti’s mission to get more people around tables this summer is something that is close to my heart.
What’s the recipe you can’t live without?
A simple spaghetti with a lightly cooked fresh tomato sauce – so simple but so satisfying.
What’s the one ingredient you’d take to a desert island with you?
Lemons – Amalfi ones if possible. They are so versatile: they quench your thirst, you can drizzle them over food and they’re a great antiseptic!
What’s the meal you’d miss the most?
A good old-fashioned slow-cooked meat ragù which we enjoyed for family Sunday lunches when I was a child and still do now when I go back to visit my family in Italy. The tomato sauce is eaten with some pasta as a starter and then the meat is enjoyed as a main course with a side salad. For dessert, a selection of cakes from the local pasticcieria (pastry shop).
You can have a one-off dinner party on the island…Who would you invite?
Sophia Loren – we would talk about Neapolitan food and share recipes.
Which cookbook would you take with you to the island?
Il Cuoco Per Tutti ; a very small Italian paperback dating back from 1877 with all sorts of interesting old recipes. What I love about it is it doesn’t give you any ingredient quantities, just a few basic instructions – it’s the way I love to cook!
Gennaro Contaldo is working in partnership with Italian beer, Birra Moretti, to launch the world’s first Bring-Your-Own-Table restaurant, open between 12th and 15th of June, London, to encourage more people to spend time with those who matter this summer.