Italian chef Gino D’Acampo is a familiar face on TV – he was king of the jungle after appearing on I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here and regularly takes to the This Morning Kitchen to whip up something scrumptious. We had a chat to him about the temperament of a chef and what he makes to seduce a lady – we even got him to part with a recipe!
After Italian, what is your favourite cuisine ?
“I like all cuisines but let me tell you which one I don’t like – the French cuisine. There is too much butter, cream and I think their technique is incorrect.
“Fusion is good if it is done sensibly, I don’t like it when it is done for the sake of it. I had Thai and Italian fusion last week and I thought it was amazing. It was a little bit spicy – a kind of a Thai soup served with a veal Milanese, it worked beautifully.”
Who cooks in your house?
“My wife Jessica cooks at home. She makes a baked farfalle with béchamel sauce and smoked salmon and that is my favourite meals that she makes.”
Does your wife feel any pressure when cooking for you?
“Always because I can’t eat without saying anything. Poor thing she always cooks for me and has dinner ready on time and puts a lot of effort in but unfortunately I have this bad habit of saying things like, ‘don’t you think this should have a little more salt’.”
How does she take that then?
“Well it depends of course on her mood and where the moon is. If she is in a good mood she doesn’t answer back, and just gets on with her stuff but if she is in a bad mood I probably get a couple of smacks on the back of the head! She hasn’t poured food over my head though as she knows that I would get annoyed if my clothes get dirty. I don’t complain though I just give her some constructive criticism.”
What is your essential piece of equipment in the kitchen?
“The dishwasher! I have all the kitchen gadgets and they are important like having a good knife, or a chopping board but I can do without them. If I don’t have a chopping board I use the bench top, If I don’t have a good knife I survive with a bad one and it takes a bit longer but I’ll tell you what I can’t do, washing-up! I don’t want to do it so my dishwasher is the most important item in the kitchen for me and I look after her and I make sure she is fine.
“I think I have the best method for packing the dishwasher. My wife thinks wrongly and the nanny thinks she has the best way but I still believe I have the best packing method!”
Is there a room in the house that you escape to, to unwind?
“Well it is not the kitchen – that is the hub of the house, the kids running around, the wife on the phone to her friends. I have a covered swimming pool in a chalet thing in the back of the garden and that is where I go and lock myself in. I have a television, a radio, a sofa and my gym, so I do everything there and the water relaxes me. The kids know they are not allowed to come and bother me when I go there.”
What is the worst thing about being a chef?
“The problem that I have is that very rarely do I get invited to dinner by friends, as they are scared to cook for me which is silly. I know cooking is my profession but if David Beckham invites me to play football, I will go and play with him. Just cook for me what you do best. If that is boiled eggs on toast, do that, I love boiled eggs and I love toast. You don’t have to impress me, it’s nice just to be invited. I don’t go for the food I go for the company.”[He takes a serious but tongue in cheek tone] “If anything comes from this interview it should be that my friends know that I would like to be invited around more for dinner. I never get invited out for dinner, never [he pouts] which is sad. Lets do a campaign an invite Gino to dinner campaign and then I will pick one every six months and go around and have a dinner.”
What are your seduction techniques?
“Food is the easiest one for me. It has to be sweet, and has to be something that is messy, something like ice-cream is perfect. It starts with something that is eventually going to melt and that is the ultimate in sexy food I think.”
Gino has designed four new recipes based on Wall’s and Carte D’Or favourites. For more information visit www.walls.co.uk.
Gino’s Pasticcio di Viennetta (Viennetta mess)
200g Wall’s Viennetta Vanilla
800g fresh ripe strawberries
1 tablespoon icing sugar, sifted
200g thick Greek-style yoghurt
6 ready made plain meringues
Wash and dry the strawberries, remove any green bits. If they are large, cut in half.
Place 600g of strawberries in a large bowl. Dust with icing sugar, gently mix and chill for an hour.
Place the remaining 200g of strawberries in a food processor and blitz into a purée, adding a dash of liqueur to taste, and chill.
Cut the Wall’s Viennetta into 1cm cubes and place into a large bowl, fold in the yoghurt, and chill.
Roughly crush the meringues into bite-sized pieces and set aside.
When you are ready to serve, gently toss the Viennetta, meringue and strawberries together.
Divide the lot between 4 tall dessert glasses.
Drizzle over the strawberry purée.