Photo: Simon Burt Photography

Festa Italiana has announced that Italian chef, TV star and award-winning author Gennaro Contaldo will star at this year’s festival in July.

The 2019 Festa Italiana will be the third time the annual celebration of Italian food, drink and culture has come to the city, with nearly 30,000 visitors flocking to the event in Cathedral Gardens in 2018.

Gennaro, who will be performing a live cookery demo, question and answer session and book signing in Manchester, is one of the country’s best loved chefs and an icon of Italian cuisine.

He is widely known as the mentor who taught Jamie Oliver all he knows about Italian cooking, giving him one of his first jobs in London at Antonio Carluccio’s Neal Street Restaurant.

The chef is still firm friends and a frequent collaborator with Jamie, and continues to work with him as part of the Jamie’s Italian restaurant brand.

At the free Manchester event, Gennaro will be demonstrating how to make his fresh pasta with summer tomato sauce and will be answering questions from the audience before signing copies of his books.

Born in Minori on the Amalfi Coast, Gennaro, like Festa founder Maurizio Cecco of Salvi’s, hails from the Campanian region, and Italian cookery is in his blood. He began helping in restaurant kitchens at the age of eight and is passionate about sharing Italian cuisine, culture and approach to life with British audiences.

Gennaro is a regular guest on Saturday Kitchen, as well appearing as his own TV show, Two Greedy Italians on BBC2 and on Jamie Cooks Italy, shown last year on Channel 4.

This year’s festival will be expanding to take in a bigger area around the city’s ‘Medieval Quarter’ with even more Italian producers, chefs, food, drink and music scheduled to descend on Manchester for the weekend.

A key theme will be the importance of cooking at home together as a family, and its impact on health and well-being – something that is a huge part of Italian culture. This will be celebrated with family style events and special guests.

“Manchester has a rich Italian heritage and I’m proud to call this wonderful city home,” says Maurizio Cecco, festival founder and owner of Salvi’s.

“Festa Italiana is all about bringing the traditions from my other home in Naples right here to Manchester – it’ a cultural exchange.

“We have been stunned by the popularity of the event – last year was amazing, the place was packed with visitors enjoying all things Italian. It was a beautiful thing!

“This year we’re building on that success, ensuring that even more of the Italian businesses get involved and celebrating a new theme around Italian family food values.

“It will truly be an Italian feast for all the senses – we can’t wait!”

Festa Italiana will run from 26th-28th July 2019. Gennaro’s event will take place Saturday 27th July at 3pm in the Festa Pavilion and is free to attend.

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