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Passione [Paperback]

Gennaro Contaldo
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

Oct. 17 2005
Full of colourful and modern recipes that evoke Italian life at its most enticing, Passione is the first cookbook from Gennaro Contaldo. Gennaro's passion for fresh, seasonal ingredients and his love of simple food is shared here with the energy for which he is famous. Beautifully illustrated with photographs from his childhood, as well as stunningly modern food photography, Passione reveals the secrets of Gennaro's own basic recipes as well as some of the best-loved dishes from his restaurant—Fillet of Seabream with Honey and Vinegar, Lamb Cutlets with Mixed Herbs and Prosciutto, and Limoncello and Strawberry Ice Cream.

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Every Jamie Oliver fan will know the name Gennaro Contaldo: Jamie's mentor, guide, inspiration and frequent guest on his television shows. Owner of Passione, a top Italian restaurant in London, his origins are much more humble. Born on the Amalfi coast, he started work in the local restaurants at the tender age of 8 and moved to Britain in 1969, working in restaurants across the country, honing his skills as a master chef. Here he shares not only his restaurant's best-loved dishes but recipes from "home" - childhood favourites and the Italian coastal region's specialities from where he originates. Simple chicken broth, Neapolitan pizza and risotto "terrone" intermingle with the more exotic tagliolini with black truffle, stuffed globe artichokes and guinea fown with pancetta and raisins. Juices run and saliva builds up over Gennaro's mouth-watering descriptions of the origins of these recipes, the familial ties and sumptuous photographs of Jason Lowe. Interspersed with Gennaro's own family photographs, this is a humbling picture of one of London's top restaurant owners and chefs, dispelling the myth of high falutin' prima donnas and explaining a lot of Jamie Oliver's ethos in the kitchen. - Lucy Watson --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

About the Author

Gennaro Contaldo began to work in the kitchens of local restaurants in Amalfi at the age of eight. In 1969, he moved to Britain where he travelled from the Midlands to Loch Lomond, training in village restaurants and studying the wild food of the area. He then worked as a chef in several London restaurants before opening his own, Passione, in London's Fitzrovia. Gennaro is currently involved with Jamie Oliver in setting up 'Jamie's Italian', a collection of nationwide restaurants. He lives in London with his partner Liz and their gorgeous twins Chloe and Olivia.

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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
It is almost certain that this book was written and published because Gennaro Contaldo is a mentor and close friend to the very celebrated chef Jamie Oliver. While the connection with Oliver and with Gennaro's own UK / Italian mentor, Antonio Carluccio adds interest to the book and while it is unlikely that I would have bought the book without these connections, I can with complete honesty say that this book stands on its own two feet as a good Italian cookbook and a superior evocation of life growing up in an Italian family where raising, growing, fishing, and hunting animals and plants for food was the whole family's primary avocation.
The stories of Gennaro's childhood, especially those directly related to hunting, fishing, and animal husbandry succeed in painting a picture of life along the Amalfi coast which succeeds much better than several culinary memoirs of Italy which I have recently read and reviewed. Mr. Contaldo is not a strong writer and I suspect he received a considerable amount of literary help in transcribing his oral memories of life in Southern Italy to paper. But, the stories are so vivid and so heart-felt that I can almost smell the blood and the sea and the mushrooms that are the subject of so many stories.
From the vantage point of an American who has read many stories of the romance northern Europeans feel for Italy, it is truly surprising to see a reverse of this scenario. Gennaro had a great desire to live and work in England as he was growing up in Italy. Once in the UK, he worked with several restaurants, including a stint in one of Antonio Carluccio's restaurants. When he was head chef at one London restaurant, he trained the young Jamie Oliver, who treats him as his London dad.
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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Culinary Memories and Cuisine Of Jamie Oliver's Mentor April 20 2004
By B. Marold - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
It is almost certain that this book was written and published because Gennaro Contaldo is a mentor and close friend to the very celebrated chef Jamie Oliver. While the connection with Oliver and with Gennaro's own UK / Italian mentor, Antonio Carluccio adds interest to the book and while it is unlikely that I would have bought the book without these connections, I can with complete honesty say that this book stands on its own two feet as a good Italian cookbook and a superior evocation of life growing up in an Italian family where raising, growing, fishing, and hunting animals and plants for food was the whole family's primary avocation.
The stories of Gennaro's childhood, especially those directly related to hunting, fishing, and animal husbandry succeed in painting a picture of life along the Amalfi coast which succeeds much better than several culinary memoirs of Italy which I have recently read and reviewed. Mr. Contaldo is not a strong writer and I suspect he received a considerable amount of literary help in transcribing his oral memories of life in Southern Italy to paper. But, the stories are so vivid and so heart-felt that I can almost smell the blood and the sea and the mushrooms that are the subject of so many stories.
From the vantage point of an American who has read many stories of the romance northern Europeans feel for Italy, it is truly surprising to see a reverse of this scenario. Gennaro had a great desire to live and work in England as he was growing up in Italy. Once in the UK, he worked with several restaurants, including a stint in one of Antonio Carluccio's restaurants. When he was head chef at one London restaurant, he trained the young Jamie Oliver, who treats him as his London dad.
For American readers, please be prepared to deal with a few English terms for foods such as `Rocket' for Arugula, `Aubergines' for Eggplant, and `Courgettes' for Zucchini. All weights are in both metric (litres, grams, and Centigrade) and English (pints, ounces, and Fahrenheit). As I can visualize amounts more readily in metric than in English (I was a chemist), I am quite happy to have both. This book has value as a very good introduction to cooking in metric for those of you who are metrically challanged. The one place where measurements may be a challenge to most of us is with the flour units. All flour measurements for bread and pasta are given by weight (grams and pounds). So, you will need a kitchen scale to handle these.
The chapters organize recipes in exactly the way you would like and expect an Italian cookbook to lay things out. The English chapter titles are soup; pasta; risotto, polenta, gnocchi; fish and shellfish; meat, game, poultry; vegetables; tomatoes; mushrooms; snacks; bread; and desserts. The cuisine is not purely of Campania. There are lots of beans and pestos and rice and corn meal from northern Italy, but there certainly seem to be a lot more sparkle in the tomato and seafood recipes than in other recipes. Like all good traditional Italian chefs, Gennaro is fond of cooking with mushrooms, especially wild mushrooms such as porcini, although Seignior Contaldo is always careful to recommend a `garden variety' replacement for the wild fungi. The same is true of cheeses. Genarro will recommend the preferred Italian variety and specify a commonly available replacement if the traditional product cannot be found.
There is nothing new or profound in Gennaro's pasta making. He uses the same technique you will see done by Molto Mario Batali or Mr. Naked Chef Jamie Oliver. His bread making technique is also very similar to what I have seen in Jamie Oliver's books. It is distinctly non-artisinal, as it uses a relatively large (three to four times what I have seen elsewhere) amounts of yeast and fairly short rise times. I find it a perfect balance in the book to see a single pizza recipe for a genuine Neapolitan pizza and a single recipe for focaccia. Most other bread recipes are things like pane rustico with salami, cheese and eggs baked into a roll for taking along for a lunch while at work.
In general, there is nothing dramatically new here. All the soups and sauces and stuffed vegetables and pasta dishes have been seen before. But, Genarro succeeds in breathing life into all of these classics with a hard earned respect for ingredients which I find more genuine than what you see written by others.
The color photography of the food and the principals who created the book is competent and a little less than perfectly professional. It is almost as if the photographer made a point of keeping the rough edges on his technique to match the hearty vitality of the recipes. As the author and photographer took the trouble to return to Gennaro's hometown to do the food styling and photography, I believe that effort was well made. Gennaro's black and white snapshots of his family lend a charm consistent with the tone of the book. Congratulations for having the thoughtfulness to provide captions for these family snaps.
Highly recommended treatment of traditional Italian cuisine, with a genuine, enjoyable picture of the author's family and childhood. Most recipes are suitable for inexperienced cooks.
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Recipies for Grits, Whoops I Mean Polenta May 29 2005
By John Matlock - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
The title "Passione" comes from the name of the restaurant owned by the author who also is the head chef. It's a modest little place on Charlotte Street in London ([...] If you are familiar with Charlotte Street you know what that means. It's a small, short street where you find one modest little place after another that have to rank among the best restaurants in the world. It's London's equivalent to Restaurant Row on West 46th Street in New York.

"Passione" fits that bill perfectly. It won the award as the best Italian restaurant in London in 2005.

I haven't tried all the recipies, that will take me a long time. But his recipies featuring polenta provide a couple of new variations on what mother used to make. But being in the south we called it grits instead. I must also say that his comments on using old fashioned grits rather than the new quick grits (taste kind of like library white paste) are exactly right. I'd even suggest that you spend some effort to find the coarse ground yellow grits done by people like Bob's Red Mill in Oregon or the Old Mill of Guilford in NC.

The other recipies I've tried are equally excellent. Tonight I'm going to do the king prawns with garlic and chili. His recipie is close to one that I've used before, but with a couple of new items that sound like they would make an interesting taste.

The best thing I can say about a cookbook is that this is one that I use.
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