One of the most epic days of my blogging career so far has been attending a live cooking demonstration by the legendary Antonio Carluccio, at the Good Housekeeping Cookery School, and the celebration Cirio’s 160 years of Italian Heritage. You will find out why I have ranked this day so highly at end of the post in a special video!
Antonio, who was born in Italy, in the Amalfi Coast, grew up with his family cooking with the Cirio brand (pronounced Chirio in an Italian accent in case anyone is wondering how to pronounce it), and has continued the tradition himself. He said that he hardly ever does product endorsements and he only agreed to be the face of Cirio’s celebrations because he truly believes in the brand and its quality and it invokes so much nostalgia about his childhood.
I personally use Cirio too and it does taste that much better than other brands, but more than Italian cooking, I tend to use it for Indian dishes. I am now going to try some new Italian dishes with it too.
Antonio is a such a well loved Italian chef and I love watching his show with Gennaro Contaldo, Two Greedy Italians. He is such a pleasure to watch and seeing him in person was just incredible. He is literally the godfather of Italian cooking.
In 1998, Antonio was awarded the Commendatore OMRI by the President of Italy for services to Italian gastronomy, which is the equivalent of a British knighthood.
In 2007 he was awarded an honorary OBE. He has truly spread his love for Italian cuisine through his TV show, books and the well known Carluccio’s restaurants.
He showed us demonstrations for making simple dishes with minimal ingredients and for ultimate flavour. His famous “MOF MOF” or “minimum of fuss, maximum of flavour” cooking philosophy came across in all his dishes.
He made a delicious Pappa al Pomodoro which was utterly divine. This is a Tuscan style tomato soup eaten with bread and perfect for every season. The epitome of comfort food.
Mussels in a rich tomato sauce were also full flavoured and tasty. These seemed to disappear quickly a testament to the fantastic cooking by Antonio Carluccio.
It was apparent throughout the demo that his favourite herb is basil. He spoke about it with so much love and passion and insisted a fresh pot of basil was by him all the time. He truly loved the aromas and it really came through.
He is such a lovely, charismatic, down to earth chef, full of humour and the type of man you just want to immediately adopt as your grandad! I did get some photos with him as seen below.
The absolute highlight of the evening was being given the opportunity for an exclusive interview with him, which you can view in the video below. The night before I excitedly prepared some questions. I did sneak in a non-food related question and am glad to report he loves cats as much as I do 😉 This was just amazing. He was so lovely to chat too and he is so inspiring.
Antonio Carluccio has a new cookbook coming out on October 26th called Vegetables. Signed copies will be available in the Carluccio’s restaurants and I for one am excited to get my hands on one!
Have you tried the Cirio brand or own any of Antonio Carluccio’s cookbooks?