Gino D’Acampo, the UK’s favourite Italian chef, Gino D’Acampo, has just launched his new My Coffee & Deli Bar in Manchester.
The new Italian fast-casual dining offer, which is located on the ground floor of his My Pizza & Prosecco Bar in fashion retailer Next, is Gino’s third restaurant and bar in the city. We caught up with Gino on all things festive and his next steps…
Can you tell us your favourite seasonal produce for this time of year and how you’ll be cooking them this winter?
I love the harvest, and in Italy, like in the UK, we have a long tradition of preserving our products to last through winter to spring, from smoky prosciuttos to spicy 'nduja, from artichokes to dried mushrooms! And that's before we talk about all the food we use fresh. I have so many seasonal favourites, like clams, scallops, artichokes and radicchio, these are just some of the ingredients I indulge in during the colder months.
I also enjoy seasonal staples like freshly cooked pasta and slow cooked stews; you can’t beat a hearty soup in the winter, it’s one of my favourites and we have a delicious chunky vegetable soup on the menu at My Restaurant, the Ribollita Soup, you have to try it!
What does an Italian Christmas dinner involve?
Italian Christmas dinners are crazy! Obviously, I will say there is no Christmas like an Italian Christmas, it is one of Italy’s most celebrated holidays. In Naples it's about getting together with the entire family and above all, trying delicious culinary delicacies, as we all cook our favourite dishes. We eat lots of food, naturally. For us the festivities kick off on Christmas Eve, when we tend to eat lean so I cook up a tasty fish dish.
The thinking is that if you have a ‘giorno di magro’ (day of low fat), you help purify your body for the holiday. Whether the fish dishes that are actually served qualify as “lean,” of course, is another story! For the main event, the table groans under the weight of the usual suspects as well as all the delicious Italian desserts. I personally love homemade panettone for dessert, alongside a big shot of Limoncello – it’s my favourite part.
Gino’s top tip for a fabulous family Christmas...
I think it’s so important for everyone to switch off at Christmas, it’s all about winding down, enjoying quality family time with lots of food, drinks and treats.
There’s no better way to spend time with my kids, I love to have them in the kitchen with me. I strongly believe if you don't want your kids to be fussy with food, then get them involved. So I encourage them to try and make new things, experiment, use their hands. It’s a great opportunity to make sure they’re confident and creative cooks.
What one tip or ingredient should we all be adding to our Christmas dinner to give it the Gino twist!
Just because you’re in the kitchen, it doesn’t mean you should miss out on all the festive fun; plan ahead as there are so many elements that can be prepped in advance. Don't get stressed, delegate and if you keep the wine by your side, everything will be OK!
What’s next for Gino?
There are lots of exciting things to come. I’ve just opened my latest restaurant at The Springs, Thorpe Park, Leeds, and have another in development in Birmingham, with more in the pipeline for 2019. The sixth series of Italian Escape has also just returned to ITV (Nov 1st 8.30pm) and then there’s my new book, Gino’s Italian Adriatic Escape. It’s a busy time but I wouldn't have it any other way!
GINO CORNER, AT NEXT - GROUND FLOOR, EXCHANGE SQUARE, MANCHESTER, M4 3AJ
Monday - Friday: 7am–7pm | Saturday - Sunday: 8am–7pm