Chef Gino: a passion for food

2017-11-01 Chef Gino is like a tidal wave. Explosive, infectious, unpredictable. And that’s why American kids adore him.
Born in Parma, Gino Campagna has lived in Los Angeles since the early 1990s, and is now a superstar chef. Through his TV shows and demonstrations, he teaches little ones how to cook with fresh, healthy ingredients and make simple, tasty dishes like fresh pasta with tomato sauce.
What do Americans think about food, Chef Gino?
Food is everywhere you go in the States, and there’s lots of it. It’s a symbol of prosperity, but it’s quantity over quality. The biggest problem is that Americans see “Junk Food” as real food, while all the rest – everything that’s fresh and healthy – is seen as medicine, something they have to eat because the doctor told them to.
What’s your approach to cooking?
My food is simple, with a small number of fresh ingredients and easy recipes. It’s all about busy hands and smiling faces. It’s the type of food that’s good for both body and soul.
Do you think food feeds the soul too?
Art, music, nature, being with other people, all of these things nourish the soul, whereas food... no, sorry, what am I talking about? Of course food feeds the soul too!
What’s your signature dish?
Let me think… it has to be fresh egg pasta. It reminds me of Parma and my mum, and it’s a recipe I’ve shared with thousands of children. It’s the miracle of mixing together eggs and flour to create an endless number of different dishes.
What qualities do you think you have as a children’s cookery teacher?
I’ve always been able to pass on my enthusiasm to kids. It’s a gift which helped me in my former career as a children’s entertainer, and it sets me apart from others who try and teach kids how to cook without understanding how to do it…
How do you feel about tradition and innovation?
When I think about traditional Italian cuisine, I think about getting the very best from the ingredients and the simple recipes: these ideas are dear to me. If by innovation you mean the latest TV chefs or the critics’ and journalists’ idols who are always experimenting with alembics and droppers, then forget about it!”
What does “ethnic food” mean to you?
I’d like to see food which is closer to nature, more seasonal, less than perfect, less widely available but more appreciated for that.
How did you come to write your book “Chef Gino’s Taste Test Challenge”?
Two years ago I got a call from Eric Wight, the director of Rodale Kids. He told me the first book he wanted to work on was a children’s cookery book. On a trip to his local bookstore, he was disappointed to find that all the children’s cookery books were pretty boring and pretty indistinguishable. He came across my videos and TV shows while browsing online, was struck by my teaching methods and asked me to come up with a book… The rest is history… or rather, it’s my first book, and it’s out in October.

Mariagrazia Villa