Interview with Gennaro Contaldo |

Gennaro Contaldo: ‘It’s Always Special When You Make Time to Eat With Those Who Matter Most’

The chef and cookbook author is all about eating together.

Posted on

13 June 2019

Gennaro Contaldo

All Credits: PA

This summer, chef, restaurateur and Jamie Oliver’s best mate Gennaro Contaldo, is hoping to bring a bit of Italian panache to dinnertime.

“Like all Italians, I’m passionate about food and drink, and think eating together is one of the best things friends and family can do,” says Contaldo, 70, who was born in Minori, Italy.

As he teams up with Birra Moretti on a new pop-up restaurant (where you have to bring your own table) we threw some questions at him…

SEE ALSO: 11 Things You Only Know If You Like Eating Out Alone

What makes Italian-style dining so special?

What makes the dining experience so unique is how long we dedicate to it. It’s a ritual for us – involving multiple courses, processes and most importantly, time for enjoyment. We are a highly-sociable bunch of people, and so it’s really important that there’s time between each course to keep the conversation flowing!

Why should families all eat together?

It’s not just families – but groups of friends too! It’s always special when you make time to eat with those who matter most, together, around a table, and enjoy great home-cooked food and talk about their day. I encourage everyone to try and do this as often as possible – with family, friends or your workmates. It’s sociable and enjoyable and very normal in Italy!

How do you get people to put down their phones and actually chat while they eat?

Just don’t let them near the table! Be present and make time with the people who matter! No need to Twitter when you can natter!

What’s your ideal moment for a beer?

At the end of a warm summer’s day, underneath the pergola in my garden.

What do you most look forward to eating and drinking in the summer?

Barbecued meats and veggies, and lots of salads, like my chicken salad with preserved vegetables, which I created for the BYOT restaurant. With a cold bottle of Moretti, of course!

What were your summers like growing up in Italy?

Carefree days spent by the sea, swimming and diving off the rocks of the Amalfi Coast. The long, leisurely lunches with my family and the evening passeggiata (stroll) along the seafront with the tourists. It was also the time when we were busy bottling and sun-drying our precious tomatoes and preserving summer produce, like peppers, aubergines, figs and peaches, to place in our store cupboard in preparation for winter.

Gennaro Contaldo is working with the Italian beer Birra Moretti to help launch the world’s first pop-up, bring-your-own-table restaurant. It will run at the Ice Tank, 5-7 Grape St, Holborn, from June 12-15. Visit