Back from a fishing trip in Ecuador, duly documented in his next blog on ‘Foodloft’, Simone Rugiati is the social, TV version of a cook. With recipes for everyone, he stands at his oven with a humble and simple approach; qualities that have made him one of the most popular cooking personalities on TV. ‘The Mag’ recently met with him for an interview at “I Primi d’Italia” exhibition in Foligno.
by Cristina Crisci
You cook on TV and have a blog about cooking; you obviously don’t have a problem with social media! What about when you’re at home though?
Simone Rugiati: «Yes, I cook anywhere. To be honest, a friend pushed me into the social aspect after asking me «but how do you take care of media?« I found out that they’re popular and in parallel with my blog».
Do you like cooking on TV?
Simone Rugiati: «I’m very focused in the ‘Cuochi e fiamme’ studio, and although being a host is not my usual job, I’m comfortable with it. We’re on the sixth series now».
Chefs seem to be the new stars of the small screen – you’ve never been so popular. How did you end up on TV?
Simone Rugiati: «I first worked for a publishing group in Parma that dealt with cookbooks. At one point I was asked to compile a list of chefs for a programme; they were looking for a young person and I ended up doing an audition. Canale 5 took me on, (for ‘Piattoforte’ with Iva Zanicchi), and at the same time I started at ‘Gambero Rosso’ (an italian food and wine magazine)».
Why do you think there’s been this boom in cooking shows?
Simone Rugiati: “I don’t know. The timings of cooking and television don’t fit. You do cooking shows and only that, or you don’t have much time and the important things get cut out. Then there are those people who are good on screen but who aren’t cooks, so they do things wrong and broadcast mistakes. This isn’t good; cooking isn’t ‘art attack’, you can’t make mistakes. I put a lot into research and techniques. I make simple dishes that people can recreate at home».
What do you always have in your fridge?
Simone Rugiati: «Lime, ginger, lemon and citrus, though it’s rare I keep stuff in the fridge. I’ve got a fruit and veg shop right below my home and I’ve also discovered that you can order fresh foods to be delivered. I always have various spices and good products in my kitchen, and naturally, from now on, I’ll always have truffles. Indeed, it’ll be truffle tagliolini tomorrow».
Who’s been the most important person you’ve cooked for?
Simone Rugiati: «There’s no such thing for me. The lady next door or an international politician are equally as important. I don’t just make things for stars’ palates; it depends at what level you want to cook for people. I’m just as happy to make pasta with a tomato sauce for my dad».
Has there been a woman who cooked for and surprised you, and, if so, what did she cook?
Simone Rugiati: «It’s never happened – they’re afraid of being judged! Actually I cook very simply or prefer to eat a really good product; matured salami, salted pork, buffalo mozzarella…».
Blogging is all the rage these days, including cooking blogs like your own ‘foodblogger’. What do you think of them?
Simone Rugiati: «They came about as a way of sharing dishes and recipes that people want to eat, and partly because it was cheaper for companies to promote their products on blogs. After a while some became quasi food critics, with all the potential risks… at that point you have to be prepared, you risk shooting down Michelin star chefs and that’s not fair and even dangerous».
What recipe would you improvise using only Umbrian ingredients?
Simone Rugiati: «I’d suggest a dish I did last year, with the ‘noble potato’ (the truffle) and the ‘poor’ mountain potato. Boil the potato in salt water, drain, cut in half and brush with ghee, then put in the oven. Once cooked, squeeze it open and pour over a fondue, (made with milk, 30% cream and Tuscan pecorino), egg (free range and poached) then the truffle».