What was it like growing up in Minori, Italy?
Idyllic – the sea was my swimming pool; the mountains my back garden.
Were you surrounded by good food from a young age?
Always, food was all around me – fruit from the trees, fresh eggs from our chickens, fish from the sea, mushrooms from the mountains.
How did you first get started in the hospitality industry?
Helping out at local restaurants from about the age of eight.
You moved to London in 1969. What prompted the move and why did you stay?
London appeals to a lot of young people and I was one of them! I liked it so much I stayed and made it my home.
You’re credited with teaching Jamie Oliver all he knows about Italian cooking. How did you meet?
We met at Antonio Carluccio’s The Neal Street Restaurant – it was his first job after leaving college and he wanted to learn all about Italian food, so I just took him under my wing.
What role do you play in Jamie’s Italian restaurants now?
I develop the recipes, train the chefs and give it that Italian passion!
When you go back to Italy, what’s the first thing you like to eat?
Good fresh fish when I’m at the coast and a decent espresso.
You have filmed two series of Two Greedy Italians, the latest being Two Greedy Italians: Still Hungry. What were some of the highlights for you?
I enjoyed all of it! But what sticks in my mind especially is the beauty of the Alps and the lovely children in Calabria – their warmth and friendliness and their eagerness to cook and eat good food.
What’s it like working with Antonio Carluccio?
Fantastic – we love to bicker, we love to have fun and we love to eat!
What’s next in store for you?
Who knows! Life is such an adventure!
Photography by David Loftus