Aldo adds taste of Italy to world food festival

Aldo Zilli

Aldo Zilli

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This month food-lovers will be transported on a culinary journey with the chance to sample food from across the globe.

After the success of last year’s event, the Taste of the World International Food Festival is back at Fontwell Racecourse, Fontwell Avenue, on Saturday, July 20 and Sunday, July 21.

The festival celebrates food and culture from around the world, with a taste of the Far East, North Africa, the Caribbean, Europe and the UK.

Adding something a little bit special this year will be celebrity chef and restaurateur Aldo Zilli.

Born in the small seaside town of Alba Adriatica in the central Italian region of Abruzzo, Aldo specialises in Italian, vegetarian and seafood cuisine.

The award-winning chef will be holding several demonstrations during both days, something he is quite looking forward to.

“I love doing these things as I get to meet a lot of members of the public, and this event sounds big so I’m hoping to meet loads of different people there,” he says.

Aldo first learnt Italian home-cooking from his mother in Italy and then went on to hone his skills at catering college.

As part of his master classes, Aldo is hoping to dispel the myth that making pasta is hard to do.

“People seem to think making pasta and gnocchi is really difficult, but I will show them how to do it with just a knife and a rolling pin, no machinery, it really is that simple,” he explains.

“Homemade gnocchi is so much better than shop-bought, it is so light and not as doughy as what you might buy in a supermarket. I want people to have something they can take home and share.”

Also on offer on the day will be recipes using fish, squid and venison, which Aldo is going to try to source locally.

“I think it is important for people to use local producers and there are so many out there. If we don’t use them they will disappear,” he says.

Sussex also holds a special place in the heart of the San Carlo Group executive chef consultant.

“Sussex is a great county for me, I used to live in Hove and come down and spend the summer months here,” he remembers. “The Sussex food scene is quite big now, with a lot of good local producers.”

Over the years he has written ten books, including two autobiographies. He was also the founder and chef-patron of restaurants Signor Zilli, Zilli Fish, Zilli Green, Zilli Café and Zilli Bar. His Italian seafood restaurant, Zilli Fish, which was located in Brewer Street, was a Soho institution and had been open for more than 15 years until March 2012 when Aldo decided to hang up the chef’s whites and embark on other ventures.

But with more than 30 years of experience, he still feels passionate about food.

“My love for food, as time has gone on, has just grown. It just gets better as you get older, there is more passion as you can experiment with different foods,” he enthuses.

Being part of the Taste of the World Food Festival seems the perfect fit as he looks to expand to other countries.

“I travel the world with food which is a great way to try new things and new flavours,” he smiles. “I have just come back from Nigeria and I am planning on opening a pop-up restaurant in South Africa and I want to open a restaurant in India.”

Along with Italian food, he loves the spice and depth of Indian and Thai cuisine and is also looking at ways of combining them in fusion cooking.

It seems that when it comes to food, he feels it is a universal language. “When you go to different countries you don’t need to speak the language as the food speaks for itself,” he smiles.

For more information on Taste of the World International Food festival, visit tasteoftheworld.co.uk or call 01243 534148.