Tuesday, 12 July 2011

When I Met Gennaro Contaldo...

On a grey and cloudy Friday morning, we decided to head out for lunch and ended up in Jamie's Italian in Reading. As we were being led to our tables who did I see standing at the top of the stairs but Gennaro Contaldo!

We started chatting to him, and Gennaro shook our hands. We talked about his technique for fishing octopus (as seen on The Two Greedy Italians earlier this year), families and children.

 Me and my bewildered three year old posed for a photo with him, as we took our seats in the upstairs of the restaurant. He was naturally polite, happy to chat and made us feel really welcome.
Gennaro is a particular food hero of mine, as he always struck me as warm, funny, and he promotes the 'family sharing' kind of eating that we love. He also clearly has a massive knowledge about food. After all, he taught Jamie Oliver everything he knows about Italian food. Which brings us on to the whole point that he was there.
The waiter that showed us to our table told us that Gennaro taught Jamie about Italian food when he was  just nineteen, and apparently Jamie said to him that when he got to be rich and famous he promised to make him a business partner. " And so Jamie kept his promise, and here he is", shrugged the waiter.
About a month ago, I read in the local paper that Gennaro was speaking at the Reading Food Festival and I was gutted that I couldn't go and see him because we had other commitments. And here I was, treating us to lunch on a completely average Friday and got to meet him face to face. Weird how things turn out, really.

I also found this blog post about a cooking evening with Gennaro - with a great video of him explaining his Italian gestures!