Name: Silvia Colloca
"Growing up in Italy in a family of natural home cooks, I very quickly developed an interest in culinary matters, but it was only when I was in my early twenties and touring Italy with theatre shows that I saw first hand the vast regional diversity of my country, from dialects, politics and religion, to the very core of our national identity: our food. It became clear to me that there was no such thing as one distinctive Cucina Italiana (Italian cuisine). It is proudly regional cuisine, always characterised by its relationship to its immediate environment. For this reason an Italian would never order risotto in the south of Italy – rice doesn't grow there! Nor would an Italian choose seafood more than a stone's throw inland from the coast. There is a deep understanding of the importance of freshness, locality and seasonality, all mixed in with a strong sense of regional pride."