Hey guys, hope all is well with you. How have you been? I can’t believe it’s already December. In between writing, prepping for Christmas (I put my tree up this weekend, but more on that later), I’m just about getting on top of my blogging backlog. This is the second of my chef Q&As, where I got to meet the utterly fabulous Aldo Zilli.
Out of all the chefs I spoke to, Aldo is my favourite. His larger than life character and fun, zingy answers made him an absolute pleasure to interview. I only wish I had more time with him, because chatting to him didn’t seem like work at all. The guy had me in stitches, seriously. In the spirit of keeping it a fun and zippy quick-fire round, I got in ten questions in under a minute (I knew speaking fast would stand me in good stead one day). I hope you enjoy the interview as much as I did and if you ever get a chance to meet the big man, jump at it – you won’t be disappointed.
*When did you know you wanted to work with food?
Aldo Zilli: I was about 11 years old, although I had started making pasta at the age of 8. I was the youngest of 9 children you see. My dad didn’t want me to be a chef, because he thought it was only for girls. Guess I proved him wrong. I only wish he was still alive to see what I’ve done.
*Have you got a professional bucket list?
I want to be a billionaire. Then I want to buy a village and call it Zilli Village. Each street would be named after food. And I want open markets, so people can come and eat, drink, and be merry at this food village.
Have you got any advice to budding chefs?
*Get out of the kitchen! Jokes aside, keep your head down, work hard and don’t let fame get to you. When you’re a chef, you’ll always be a chef. A lot of people do it for the wrong reason now. I’m worried about the youngsters who watch us doing this work and want to “be us”. There’s a lot of work to be done first – keep your feet, heart and brain in the kitchen.
*What is the dining scene like where you live?
I live in Surrey now, having moved from Battersea. The dining scene is minimal in Surrey and I guess it’s a new way of living. I have two little children so they’re having a fantastic time. Which definitely makes it all worthwhile.
*Would you contemplate opening a restaurant in Surrey?
I couldn’t think of anything worse! It’s very stressful!
*What do you consider to be a cardinal sin in your kitchen?
*What is your ultimate comfort food?
Lovely curry? I cook a mean curry with lots of coconut milk. I love the flavour of coconut, I want to put it in everything. Including curry.
*In a Huffington Post article, Gordon Ramsay was one of the people the public voted to be the most in need of a break. As a fellow chef, what do you do to chillax?
I have a big field where I run around with my kids. I think animals and kids go together. I don’t know which of the two are more stressful!
*What is your favourite fish to work with?
*When you were younger, what did you want to be?
I wanted to be a footballer. I didn’t want to be a chef. Because it’s hard work!
I was genuinely sad when the meeting came to an all too soon end, because meeting a chef whose passion for food is as divine as he is, is downright awesome. This isn’t supposed to be a eulogy, so I’ll stop now. And I don’t say this enough, so I must reiterate my thanks to the Bolton Council for organising one of the best food festivals EVER. It is testament to their hard work and passion for great food and drink that has seen this annual event go from strength to strength. I’m now going to start on the final chef Q&A, which will be posted imminently. I got to meet this chef on a Sunday, although Saturday Kitchen is more his thing (hint hint). See you all shortly, and in the meantime, be good!