Everyone knows Guy Grossi as one of Australia’s leading authorities on all things ‘la Cucina Italiana. He is an evangelist for the traditions, the innovations and the generosity of Italian cooking. And in his latest book, ‘Love Italy’, he details his momentous journey from Piedmont to Sicily to showcase the family-run businesses and artisan producers of Italy.
Chef Grossi’s love of food and home-grown produce began in his own backyard at his family’s suburban Melbourne home. He learned first-hand from both his mother and father the traditional preparations and the importance of seasonality. And, in his introduction to ‘Love Italy’, he writes, “I know instinctively that an understanding of what you buy or source gives you respect for your ingredients. This, in turn, obliges you to take greater care in the preparation and cooking, inevitably yielding better results”.
“For a long time now, I have thought of Italy as a country made up of different ingredients rather than towns and villages! And so the idea for this book evolved”.
After years of planning and painstaking scheduling, Guy, his daughter Loredana, photographer Mark Chew and publisher Julie Gibbs traversed Italy on a quest to present the very best of Italian gastronomy. They stayed in agribusinesses farm accommodation to experience the harvests and passion of the growers, producers, chefs and artisans.
‘Love Italy’ is more an odyssey than a cookbook. Guy worked closely with the Italian Slow Food Movement to speak with the producers of the unique and rare. The Slow Food Movement’s campaign to protect and promote Italy’s uncommon varieties and ancient skills that were at risk of extinction has ensured the preservation of some of these heirloom fruits and vegetables and traditional techniques.
In picturesque Piedmont, he revels in the rare and precious white truffles of Alba and the cherries of Bella di Garbagna and a recipe to make homemade Mortadella with pistachio. Meanwhile, it is the Mauri caves in Lombardy that are the home of the finest Taleggio and Gorgonzola. Guy notes that the cheeses mature in the perfect inbuilt microclimate with natural ventilation from the cracks in the cave walls.
Next, in Veneto, Guy and the crew met with the family Ferron who have been producing the highest quality vialone nano rice for five generations. The recipes for Herb Risotto and Amarone Risotto are sublime. While he takes time in Friuli-Venezia Giulia, he investigates Grappa and Prosciutto with more recipes, including one for authentic Fettucine Carbonara.
In Emilia Romagna, the ingredients read like a top hits list – Parmigiano Reggiano, Aceto Balsamico and more. In Tuscany, the delights include pasta, olive oil and porcini. And, in Umbria, there is Caciofiore and in Campania Neapolitan pizza and Mozzarella de Buffala. And it’s Altamura bread in Puglia and red garlic, sea salt, oregano and pistachios in Sicily.
Mark Chew’s photography is both expansive and intimate: capturing the diverse Italian landscapes and portraits of the characters Guy and the team met on the odyssey.
This is more than a cookbook or coffee table book; It is a work of art, an awe-inspiring insight into the heart of this gastronomic paradise. Love Italy carefully and lovingly examines the food of Italy, but more importantly, it presents those people who are the guardians of Italy’s ingredients and family traditions
Make some room on your book shelf for Love Italy. You’ll never regret it.
Guy’s multi-toqued Grossi Florentino restaurant is legendary. Currently, he also runs Merchant Osteria Veneta, Ombra Salumi Bar, Arlechin Food and Wine Bar, Pezzo, and The Westin Perth’s Garum. Settimo (his seventh bambino) opens late in 2022 at the Westin Brisbane.