As some of you will know I have been filming a new cooking series for National Geographic called 60 Second Chef. In the series I get to meet some great Italian chefs, learn all about Italian cooking and feed some of the locals with my culinary delights.
…but I didn’t want to leave you all behind. So I thought I would let you backstage to find out what life is really like as the 60 second chef.
Episode 1: 23rd July
I arrived in Italy at 4pm and was taken straight to Grottaferrata, just south of Rome, to start filming. There we wasted no time and within 2 hours, we’d lugged a pasta machine all the way into the local town square to make fresh pasta for the hungry locals.
Then it was off to a local restaurant to learn a few more dishes! It was there that I met a lovely chef named Mauro. He looked just like one of the guys from the prison cooking scene in Goodfellas – whipping up the some of the most incredible food whilst chain smoking cigarettes.
And incredible the food was! We sat down and ate in the restaurant after Mauro had finished imparting onto me his great knowledge of Italian food and tasted some amazing dishes.
I was left bewildered…I cannot believe that this is my job!
Episode 2: 25th July
We all love mozzarella, but have you ever thought about where those little balls of deliciousness come from?
Well, one of the dishes we were cooking for episode 2 was mozzarella-stuffed courgette flowers – so we headed down to the buffalo farm in Montefiasconi to met the Sikhs who look after the 300 odd buffalo.
Because of their religious beliefs, Sikhs are considered to be more gentle with the buffalo, so it’s pretty common to see them on these farms. We spent an hour milking the buffalo before learning how to make traditional Italian mozzarella.
After leaving the buffalo farm we headed down to meet the local organic farmers to pick up some veg. This farm had everything from tomatoes to aubergines, courgettes and a huge plantation of kiwi fruit!
Trust me, I know what you’re thinking: kiwi fruit?! Well, according to the farmer, Italy is now the world’s largest exporter of Kiwi fruit. I’m still not convinced…what do you think?
Episode 3: 27th July
Yesterday we arrived in Ponza, an island region of Latina on the West coast, and it is simply stunning! By evening time I’d discovered I had to cook dinner for a party of locals, so I spent the day figuring out what the island’s specialities were and learning a few tricks from the ‘nonnas’, or grandmothers to you and I. These are the ladies that have been cooking traditional Italian food their entire lives – definitely the right people to be learning from!
This picture is one of the most random parts of the trip yet…. my stuntman! We had to shoot a few scenes driving around in this vintage Fiat but i) I could barely fit my legs inside and ii) I didn’t have my licence with me. Enter Luigi the body double; he took my clothes and hat and spent the next half an hour pretending to be me…. VERY surreal 😉
I will be back soon with even more goings on from my trip. If you want to keep up with the series as it is made, you can find me on Facebook at The 60 Second Chef.