Q&A with chef valentina harris

We were delighted when TV chef and Italian cooking guru, Valentina Harris, chose Exeter Cookery School as the location to host a new series of authentic Italian Cookery Courses in the South West. We spoke to Valentina about her food inspirations and influences.


What is your earliest memory about food & cooking?

Being taught to make risotto aged five.

Who have been your food inspirations (both personally and professionally)?

My Mother, my family and Beppino, to whom I owe it all.

What is your signature dish and why?

Risotto, because it was the first.

Name your top ten larder essentials?

Extra virgin olive oil, risotto rice, pasta, flour, dried oregano, dried chillies, canned anchovies, olives, canned chickpeas and canned borlotti beans.

Who has been the most exciting person you have cooked for and what was the occasion?

I can’t tell you that, but running a cookery theatre at Clarence House for HRH Prince Charles comes a close second!

What did you learn from your experience of opening a cookery school in Italy?

That it’s all about marketing.

What is your favourite restaurant in the world?

Theo Randall at the Intercontinental.

What would you choose as your last meal on Earth?

Lobster.

And who would you eat it with?

My sons.

What do you love about teaching people to cook?

Seeing their confidence grow.

What will be the top three things people coming on one of your cookery courses will come away with?

Recipes that work, delicious flavours and a greater understanding of Italian food and all its nuances.

Later this year, you’ll be returning for some festive edible gift making courses. What does a traditional Italian Christmas lunch / dinner consist of?

Traditionally it’s all about Christmas Eve Feasting, and which region you are in. It could be fish, or in Emilia Romagna, it’s all about Tortellini in Brodo.