Five cooking demonstrations focusing on the cuisine of specific regions presented by some of Sydney’s leading Italian chefs; share their passion for the cooking of their regions and find out why there’s no such thing as ‘Italian food’. The first four demonstrations will each include a primo, secondo and dolce, then, to wrap it all up, four leading chefs will get together to whip up a seafood dish distinctive to their region.

Roberta Muir has managed Sydney Seafood School since 1997. She holds a Master of Arts degree in Gastronomy from the University of Adelaide, writes food and beverage news for Jetstar Inflight Magazine and is the author of 500 Cheeses.

Day pass to all 5 sessions $250 (includes parking at SFM) or $60/session; $50/session for CIRA members.

10am – 11am
North West: Liguria with Logan Campbell from Lucio’s Italian Restaurant and Toscana with Gabriele Taddeucci
      Code: 1MC
Liguria is a narrow region sandwiched between Piedmont and the ocean, its capital city, Genoa, was an early maritime power, but surprisingly its cooking is not seafood focused. The hills are redolent with wild herbs, which characterise Ligurian cooking (its most famous dish is pesto), a huge array of fruits and vegetables grow on terraces between the sea and mountains and it produces one of Italy’s most delicate olive oils. Situated as it is on the Italian Riviera, its cuisine speaks much more of summer and sunshine, than does that of its northern neighbours. Tuscany can lay claim to perhaps the simplest cooking in all of Italy. The taste of meat or poultry grilled over wood embers, flavoured with nothing more than the region’s excellent olive oil, lemon juice and wild herbs is a testament to the beauty of ‘cucina rustica’. Beans appear so frequently that other regions call Tuscans ‘mangiafagioli’ (bean eaters) and other humble ingredients such as cavolo nero, spinach, artichokes, offal and game appear in rich soups, stews and pasta dishes.

11.30am – 12.30pm
Foreign Influence: Spanish & Arabic in Sardegna with Giovanni Pilu from Pilu at Freshwater and Greek in Calabria with Nino Zoccali from Pendolino
 Code: 2MC
The region that is now Italy has been occupied and influenced by many different cultures over the millennia. Sardinians have traditionally lived in the mountains as shepherds and farmers, with cooking based on pork, lamb, wild game, sheep’s cheese and fregola (the local couscous-like pasta) fragranced with wild herbs. The coastal cuisine has been particularly influenced by invaders, Phoenician, Carthaginian, Greek, Roman, Genoese and Spanish all bringing their ways of preparing the island’s bounteous seafood with them. Calabria, in the “toe” of Italy, has two long coastlines and was also often occupied by foreign powers. Tuna and swordfish are plentiful, and often cooked simply with oil, lemon juice and herbs, as well as being preserved in oil. Flavours are strong with chilli, fennel and other spices playing an important role in seasoning salumi and other dishes.

1pm – 2pm
Mountains: Lombardia with Alessandro Pavoni from Ormeggio at the Spit and Basilicata with Danny Russo
      Code: 3MC
Industrial, landlocked Lombardy, in the central north, is Italy’s wealthiest region, but it is also rich in produce. The fertile plains of the River Po produce wheat, corn and rice and it is the most important livestock and dairy region, producing world famous cheeses including taleggio, mascarpone, gorgonzola and grana padano. The wooded hills provide game, such as pheasant and partridge, mushrooms and chestnuts, and the beautiful mountain lakes supply freshwater eel, sturgeon, perch, carp and trout, which are either simply grilled or poached. Basilicata, in the south, is one of Italy’s poorest regions and, while not strictly landlocked, has only a couple of tiny coastal strips and is almost entirely mountainous. Here homemade pasta reins supreme and chillies are a popular seasoning, pork is the most common meat appearing in a wide range of sausages, hams and salamis.

2.30pm – 3.30pm
South: Campania with Armando Percuoco from Buon Ricordo and Abruzzo with Eugenio Maiale from A Tavola
      Code: 4MC
Campania was part of the Kingdom of Spain for many centuries, and, as such, probably the first part of Italy to see the strange new fruit, tomato, that the Spanish brought back from the New World. Its coastline gives it a cuisine rich in seafood, while its many centuries of poverty make meat a scarce luxury and vegetables feature in many forms. In contrast, Abruzzo, on the Adriatic coast, uses less tomatoes, often cooking its soups and sauces ‘in bianco’ (white). Hot little chillies add spice to salumi and many dishes; raw seafood is popular along the coast and in the mountains, wild foods such as hare and mushrooms are common.

4pm – 5pm
Regional Italian Seafood Dishes with Lucio Galletto, Alessandro Pavoni, Armando Percuoco & Giovanni Pilu
      Code: 5MC
With its long coastline, Italy boasts many delicious seafood dishes, and even landlocked regions such as Lombardy make good use of the abundant freshwater fish found in their rivers and lakes. Join four of Sydney’s leading Italian chefs for a taste of seafood distinctive to their home regions.