Italian home chef Silvia Colloca kicks off her new book Simple Italian with what she aptly describes as a simple truth and that is ‘everyone can, and should, cook!’ It is a fundamental life skill, she says, that we can all practice and enjoy the intrinsic value it brings to our life.
Her new book Simple Italian features all the tips and tricks she got from her Italian nonnas and of course plenty of mouth-watering Italian recipes.
The Carousel is already featuring Silvia’s recipes, and we also caught up with the Italian-Australian actress, opera singer, cookbook author, and TV cookery show personality.
Here’s ten things to know about this Italian singing cook, Silvia Colloca.
1. I am a self-proclaimed food lover
To be a food lover, you don’t have to have a veggie garden. What’s important is celebrating the ingredients you cook with. For me, it means knowing the produce and giving them the glory they deserve without altering or transforming them. Take asparagus. What we do with asparagus in Italy, which are in season for six weeks, we slightly poach them with a fresh egg or we add the spears into our ravioli right at the end.
Growing up in an Italian household, you acquire certain food philosophies without knowing they can define you. I never knew I’d turn my love for food into a career.
2. Although I have no official cooking training, having been exposed to Mamma and Nonna’s cooking since I was born has to count for something!
Growing up in Milan, my two nonnas were very different cooks and came from different regions of Italy. Italian cooking is very regional. One was lavish and the other was rustic in their cooking styles. Every weekend we’d rotate who we’d see with my mum’s parents one week and then we’d see our dad’s parents. The gathering was always around the table. It was magnificent. My dad’s mum made the most incredible bolognese and she’d cook it for seven hours. We only ever have that with gnocchi or tagliatelle, never ever with spaghetti. Don’t go to Italy and order spaghetti bolognese because you won’t get it.
3. I have co-written, co-created and co-produced four TV shows.
It began with MADE IN ITALY WITH SILVIA COLLOCA for SBS and SILVIA’S ITALIAN TABLE for ABC. Made in Italy sold in over 23 countries and Italian Table was followed by two seasons of Cook Like an Italian for SBS and a show with Marion Grasby called Wok Versus Pot With Marion and Silvia.
I’m a home cook and still am. I just started writing about my memories on my blog and somehow I won the algorithm and then started writing books after it got attention and then went on to do TV shows. I thought that was it but it wasn’t …
4. I have a new podcast on Mamamia called What I Eat When.
Here, I interview well-known personalities about special memories and moments they associate with food. That’s been really fun. I’ve been a fan of Mamamia for a few years, then I discovered the podcasts. I really love what the company stood for and its beautiful culture of championing women. They pitched a similar show to me as I wanted to pitch to them and two weeks later I was recording in the studio. We’ve finished the first season of 12 episodes with beautiful people chatting to me, some from lockdown in Melbourne and LA and some in the flesh like my friend Matt Moran, and Jess Rowe and Lisa Wilkinson and Manu, who is hilarious. Food connects with so many emotions and it takes the conversation into interesting areas.
5. I have three children and am married to actor Richard Roxburgh.
Two boys, Raphael and Miro and Luna, my baby girl, born in 2017. All three children are bilingual and the two eldest attended school in Italy for a few months in 2017.
I’m worried about how their language skills will develop because we’d previously been able to travel to Italy every year. They would do Italian camps with other kids. I hope we can keep it up for Luna. She is still very young. She has a perfect accent. They all love food. My new show starts in three weeks and they all took part in the filming.
So did Silvia romance her husband Richard Roxburgh through her cooking? Actually, he cooked for me. He had no idea who he was cooking for. In hindsight, he says he thought he must have been mad doing that. I love it when friends cook for you and cherish those times when you are welcomed into someone’s house for a meal. Some people worry because I’m a cook but it’s really nice to be welcomed into people’s home and cooked for. I also appreciate the gesture that this is their sacred place, that’s really special.
6. I am a professional actress both for stage and screen (big and small)
7. I am also a professional Opera singer
I attended Milan’s SCUOLA MUSICALE for 4 years. Here in Australia I have sung in various Opera productions, my favourite being ORFEO ED EURIDICE at the ART GALLERY OF NSW in 2015. I have had the joy of singing in Europe’s most beautiful theaters such as The London Palladium, Berlin’s Tempodrom, Milan’s Teatro Nazionale, among others.
I still sing. I did a recording yesterday but it has been hard over the last 12 months. The last gig I did was March, 2020 and the day afterwards, performing live was banned. I was going to do Carols by Candlelight but Sydney was in lockdown so it didn’t happen. It’s nice to get back to it.
8. I became an Australian citizen in July 2013
I moved here for love. Richard and I met on a filmset in LA and we moved here permanently in 2009.
Becoming a citizen felt very lucky. These days more than ever. Everyone is coming to Australia.
9. My favourite food podcasts and apps are
I love Gary Meaghan’s podcast A Plate To Call Home. he is the most phenomenal host. We’ve only seen him on MasterChef but he has a real feel when he talks in depth with people. His interviews are so intelligent and I’ve been just blown away by them.
I love instagram for food. I do use that for inspiration. A friend of mine in Sweden has an app and instagram handle called Passion For Baking and an incredible recipe collection. She has 1.2 m followers on Instagram. Make sure you’ve eaten before you look at her food.
10. My most incredible meal is…
There’s a lot of memorable meals.
The first time I came to Australia, Richard organised a boat trip to Shark Island in Sydney and it included a phenomenal hamper. I had never been to Australia before and it was really magical. I now love picnics. Picnics are like an equaliser, everyone brings something and no one in charge. There’s no stress. We do picnics a lot with our family. Richard has a really big extended family so sometimes we organise a picnic in a park and for Christmas we do this and bring Christmas kringles and a lucky dip and everyone brings a plate and that’s how we dive into our Christmas.
More about Silvia Colloca
Silvia Colloca is an Italian-born food lover with a passion for sharing delicious recipes that have been passed down through her family for generations. Her food is authentic and simple, and embedded in it is the legacy of the hands of her mother and grandmothers. Silvia has authored five books, is a contributor to delicious. magazine, and has co-created, co-produced and hosted four television shows: Cook Like an Italian, Wok vs Pot and Made in Italy for SBS, and Silvia’s Italian Table for the ABC. When she’s not in the kitchen, Silvia loves to return to her first love, the stage. Silvia lives in Sydney with her husband and three children.