Q&A The Caldesis

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Katie and Giancarlo Caldesi, restaurateurs, cookery school owners, food writers and chefs

The cookbook that has most influenced your cooking

Katie: Delia Smith’s Summer Cooking.  I think over the years I have cooked almost every recipe. Such a lovely selection that still work with today’s tastes

Giancarlo: I never cooked from a book in my childhood but learnt everything from my mum, auntie and neighbour by watching

The food of love… What would you cook to impress a potential date

K: I would cook a rolled porchetta stuffed with garlic and herbs with crunchy, chewy crackling, we would have to eat with our fingers tearing pieces off. I would serve it with a herb and lettuce salad to make little parcels of the meat and leaves all washed down with a wonderfully earthy natural red wine

Gc: Lobster thermidor and vintage Pol Roger. It worked on Katie and I love the sweetness of the lobster meat and the best champagne

Your top five dinner guests, dead or alive

K: Guy from Elbow to sing to me while I prepared, Elizabeth David to comment on the ingredients and recipes and tell stories, Elizabeth I just because it would be interesting, Stephen Fry because you could ask him anything, Graham Norton to make us all laugh and relieve the tension

Gc: The Queen because it would be fascinating to see her relax, Nelson Mandela, Stalin to ask why, Marilyn  Monroe, Charles Bronson

Fast food –  your top snack tip

K: Boiled eggs, tahini dressing and sesame seeds

Gc: tomato bruschetta

Most memorable meal in  film/literature/painting

K: any medieval painting of a banquet where they are eating roast meats with hands and a knife, red wine in goblets and bread

Gc: The scene in the movie Chef where he teaches his son to cook a grilled cheese sandwich – the care he takes and how he shows his son that every sandwich should be made with care

Your worst kitchen disaster

K: a frittata that stuck to the pan at the bottom and refused to cook at the top – all in front of an audience in South Africa at a cooking competition.  I lost for our team which was made up of the Hairy Bikers. So embarrassing

Gc: on an episode of our programme Return to Tuscany when I tried to cook veal in milk, it curdled and I panicked but actually I should have kept cooking it and it would have made a wonderful rich sauce

What do you eat  when you get home from the pub [or similar]

K: seeded, nutty bread with British butter and an excellent cheddar

Gc: My own Ricciarelli biscuits, a recipe from Siena made with ground almonds and low in sugar as I was diabetic

What would you like your final meal to be?

K: Fresh Tagliatelle with Truffle butter followed by Roast Duck in Orange Sauce and Sauteed Cavolo Nero and after my sister Louise’s still warm baked New York cheesecake with fresh raspberries

Gc: Fresh Tagliatelle with Truffle butter followed by Calves Liver with butter and sage sauce on creamy mashed potato with Orange Polenta cake for pudding

What is your secret talent [in or out of the kitchen]?

K: I used to be a painter so occasionally turn my hand to decorating furniture, murals and interior design

Gc: I like to mend things around the house, it helps me relax

What did you eat for breakfast today?

We both ate fried eggs from our own chickens with peppers, onions, avocado, homemade spicy sauerkraut and coriander leaves

Most over-rated/ under-rated food/seasoning/gadget

We both can’t find a reason for tofu to exist, nor vegetarian sausages or quorn.

Your inheritance recipes – the one you inherited [and from whom] and the one you’d like to pass on to your children

K: Not so much a recipe but a way of cooking with love from my mother – she would make everything ‘premium’ as the children call it when I do the same for them. When I came home from being away my mum would always cook my favourite meal to welcome me – it was roast chicken with bacon, bread sauce, homemade gravy, mashed potatoes, buttered broccoli, Vichy carrots and chipolatas. So much attention to detail and presentation, it was just wonderful. I do the same for the kids’ breakfast more than a traditional roast – it might be just making poached eggs on toast exactly how they like it with a little cut in the egg yolk finished with salt, pepper and butter to melt on top. It shows you care and sends them off to school happy and feeling loved

Gc: I learnt to make the classic Italian tomato sauce from my mother, it’s the way we cook it now in the school and restaurants. The same with the beef ragu from my father. Now my children can make it in the exact same way

Katie and Giancarlo Caldesi are the authors of numerous cookery books, the most recent being Tuscany: Simple Meals and Fabulous Feasts from Italy by Giancarlo & Katie Caldesi (Hardie Grant Books)  amazon.co.uk/Tuscany-Simple-Meals-Fabulous-Feasts/dp/1784881198/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1519727589&sr=1-1&keywords=giancarlo+caldesi

More information on their restaurants and cookery schools can be found at: caldesi.com