Our fantastic team of chefs are the experts in all things cookery, leading the majority of our diverse classes. However, every now and then, we welcome a guest chef to share their specialist knowledge far and wide. Just one of these is Freddy Gangemi, an Italian native that leads our Roman and Sicilian classes. We sat down with Freddy to find out what he loves about cooking and the special draw to Italian flavours.
Can you tell me a little about your culinary journey? What inspired a passion to cook?
I was inspired by my passion for eating. I started cooking age 13 because I didn’t like the food my mother cooked (she’s probably one of the worst cooks on the planet) and have been ever since!
My culinary inspiration was definitely my grandmother, who grew up in her parents’ hotel in Sicily and although wasn’t professionally trained (I don’t think there was such thing as professional training back then!) she learnt all the tricks from her chefs, and could probably cook before she could even walk.
Growing up in Italy, I have always been fascinated by regional cuisine. I am very interested in how regional cuisine is shaped by the local climate and produce, but also by historical factors and influences, which is probably true of Italy more than other places with famous cuisines such as France.
When I moved to London 20 years ago, I felt like a child in a sweetshop – so much different food from all over the world! I became fascinated with Eastern food, particularly Chinese (through my mother-in-law) and Indian (through working with a chef who developed an Indian-Mediterranean fusion concept). Obviously I could never negate my roots, and I am still very much into Italian food!
How did you end up cooking at Cookery School?
I’ve known Cookery School since its very start – I taught one of the first-ever classes there, the first fresh pasta-making class. Fun fact: I am a designer by trade, and I designed the school’s first logo, which has only recently been replaced after almost 15 years.
What excites you the most about Italian flavours?
Italian cooking is all about ingredients and the alchemy they create together. The preparations are often very simple, as much of the cuisine is popular (as in for the people, not fashionable), but the resulting flavours are unbeatable. And it’s healthy too!
What can students expect from your upcoming Roman class?
We designed this class so that students can get into the pillars of Roman and Italian cuisine (frying batter, pasta making, pasta cooking, tiramisu, etc.), in a highly interactive way, with a real Roman as their guide. Hopefully everyone will leave the room wanting to go home and cook Roman food for their friends!