EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW with The Chiappa Sisters

The Chiappa sisters, Michela, Emi, and Romina are Italians, born and raised in Wales. They were introduced last summer during a 4 hour series called Simply Italian along with a book, At Home with The Chiappa sisters, available on Amazon... Last summer, my family and I fell in love with the three sisters and their extended family, they cooked real authentic Italian food with such simplicity and love that it came through the screen right to our bellies...

I am so happy and oh so honored that my first interview with a chef is with The Chiappas (three chefs)...

Here's the delightful interview:

F:First of all, I love your TV show. You can feel the love between you & your family, will there be a second season? 
M, E, & R:There's no second series set in stone at the moment, but there's lots of exciting things in the pipeline that should hopefully mean you get to see more of the sisters and the family in the future. One of the latest exciting projects that we're currently working on is our blog, which we'll be updating regularly with new recipes, foody finds, and fun things we get up to. Hopefully, this will make our followers feel that we 're still here to help if they have any questions etc. We’ve also been working with Jamie Oliver on his Food Tube channel. This will have quick recipes and videos of us doing our favorite dishes.  The first installment is all about super quick pasta sauces  in which you'll find a number of recipes that are simple and perfect to cook when you need to whip up something fresh and easy.
F:Were you always interested in cooking?
M, E, & R:Food for us is part of our lifestyle and upbringing; it’s what our lives revolve around.  We were brought with Dad's mentality of 'La Tavola' (the table) being the most important part of the household.  It’s where we cook, socialize and eat.  The cooking part is part of the process which all the women in the house were involved in.  No dinner time was ever passed without us all eating together, no matter how much homework we had, if we had friends over, or evening activities got in the way. Dinner wasn't ever something fancy or intricate, it was a simple tasty home cooked meal made by mum and so this is how we've grown up and how we have carried on living our lives.

F:What's your favorite pasta dish to cook? 
Michela: I love cooking a classic tomato pasta dish with tuna and capers.  It’s really quick and easy to prepare, super filling and yet really really tasty.  My husband would be happy eating this several nights of the week!

Emi: I love the traditional ricotta and spinach filled pasta parcels.  These take time to prepare but you can have fun making a large supply with your family in production line and freeze them.  Then you have a super quick and delicious meal any night of the week.  You CANNOT buy an equivalent from a supermarket, you HAVE to have these freshly made as they taste completely different!

Romina: I actually love cooking squid ink pasta. I love the way the pasta can become so intensely black, and when you match this with a really simple fresh prawn (from the fishmongers of course) garlic and chilli sauce, nothing quite tastes like a fresh summary meal as that. It's also a great one to whip out for a dinner party as people are often impressed by the black pasta.

F:What ingredients do you see as 'the essentials'? 
M, E, & R:We often ask each other if you had to live on a desert island what would be the essential ingredients you would take, and this is something that you'll actually get all three of us agreeing on.
Parmesan Cheese – makes so many dishes really yummy without needing to add too much salt and is a kitchen essential for us!

Extra Virgin Olive Oil
– We simply cannot do without this.  Our Nonno (grandfather) used to say, a spoon of olive oil a day will help you live a long life and keep your bones and joints well oiled.

Fresh Tomatoes – they would have to be the really juicy Italian ones… You can enjoy them raw or make so many dishes with them.  Really versatile!

F:You & your sisters have a cook book that will be out very soon, will it be the next chapter to the TV show? 

M,E, & R:Potentially yes...but I guess we'll have to wait and see.  However the book came about because it seemed that we had all these recipes handed down to us by our Nonnas (Grandmothers) and we wanted to get them all in once place. We'd often ring home asking mum 'how do we do this' and 'what goes in that' and so the book is essentially a collection of all the things we make at home, that are traditional Italian home made dishes mainly from the Emiglia Romagna region of Italy.

F:You & your sister Emi, both got married in Italy this June, So tell us who cooked the wedding feast?
M, E, & R:It's safe to say that the double wedding in Italy is certainly a unique experience. For both brides the 3 top priorities for the wedding was family and friends, food, and a relaxed party environment. Weddings in Italy are all about the food, and in most cases there are about 10 courses.

We found some amazing caterers in Italy that completely understood the feel we wanted.  The amazing thing about Italian weddings is the quality and quantity of food and wine you can get in Italy which would cost 3-4 times the amount for the equivalent in the UK – plus you get the bonus of the gorgeous Italian countryside and weather (usually!).

Having gone through this process, we actually now have set up a service for British couples who want to get married in Italy. Being Italian and having a dad who does business with Italians we know how things  works out there and want to be able to pass to experience on. It’s a free service; take a look at cohoitalianweddings.com where you can find out more about this exciting project.

F:What are your favourite cities? (list your favourite restaurants and shopping spots in each city) 
Romina: living in London at the moment I'm loving exploring and finding some great foody spots.
On of my favourite places in Princi on Wardour Street. When I first walked in here, I couldn’t believe that they had all the dishes that remind me of home and Italy so much, and cooked so authentically well. Whenever I’m in the area, it’s definitely my go to spot.
As for shopping, embarrassingly so, I tend to spend most of my money on going out for dinner and meeting people for drinks, and so when it comes to shopping I'm a little boring  will head to the Northcott Road or King's Road as it’s a little quieter that Oxford street.
This is exactly why we're setting up the website to hopefully share any secret foody finds.

F:Do you see yourself as the next hot celebrity chefs? 
M, E, & R:Definitely not. This whole experience has come completely out of the blue, and so we're all still in a little bit of shock about it all. Honestly we're just three girls who love food and just want to cook healthy home cooked food.
F:Who cooks in your home, you or your husband?
Miki:  My husband, to be fair, spends most of his day cooking; he runs our coffee shop in Cardiff and makes everything fresh each day.  He also went to Italy to learn how to make thin-crust pizza and focaccia the Italian way!  So the last thing he fancies doing in the evenings is cooking.  And besides, I probably wouldn’t let him in the kitchen! 

F:Can you give us 3 tips for cooking a good delicious Italian meal.
M, E, & R:Fresh good quality ingredients... Taste taste taste as you go along. One of the hardest things about writing the book was that we all cook by taste and not measurement, and this is definitely something that can make or break a dish.
The most important thing when cooking pasta/risotto is do not overcook it!  Take it off when it’s al dente and eat immediately – pasta/risotto doesn’t wait for anyone!  Finish off with either some extra virgin olive oil or Parmesan.

For more information visit:
www.facebook.com/thechiappas or Follow @thechiappas on Twitter

*Michela will also be sharing her receipes for Britain’s top ten Italian dishes. Based on an online poll, the recipe list includes plenty of favorites that we’ve loved for years, as well as  some unexpected modern choices. Tune in at 9.30pm on the 10th August on Channel 4 or More 4.


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