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An Italian Serata with Antonio Carluccio

It was with great pleasure that Pembroke was able to welcome back Antonio Carluccio OBE and his partner Sabine Stevenson for this year’s Italian Serata.

By guest author Dr Ambrogio Camozzi Pistoja

This year an extra twist was added by inviting Carluccio himself to have direct input into the menu and cooking of the meal.

Having had a full tour of the college kitchens on his previous visit, Antonio was ready this time to get his hands dirty, rolling up his sleeves and setting to work cooking in front of an audience of Pembroke’s chefs and star-struck students.  The cookery lesson involved making pasta from scratch, and a demonstration of how to make a quick but delicious sauce to use in pappardelle ai funghi, which would be replicated step by step for the evening’s dinner in hall.

It was a sell-out evening with Savino Cafagna, College Butler, and his team going the extra mile to accommodate 140 undergraduates alongside Fellows and guests.

A warm atmosphere, excellent food and conversation were enjoyed by all.  Toward the end of the dinner, gently bending the rules of high table (although, of course, with the Master’s permission!) Carluccio wandered up and down the hall, talking with students as he went (see the gallery of photos below).  He was sure to take his elegantly whittled walking stick, carved by him in his spare time away from the kitchen and writing books.

During his speech the Master invited Seb Little, Pembroke’s head chef, to come forward to a round of well-deserved applause.  The Master then announced the establishment of the Carluccio Prize for Pembroke students, made possible thanks to the participation of so many students at the event, and the generosity of Mr Keith Sykes (1965), former Pembroke student, and now a generous donor.

Carluccio gave a short and amusing, but touching speech, prompting laughter from students and fellows alike.  Within the anecdote, he kindly shared with the Hall that during a difficult time in his life when he had been struggling with sadness and illness, humour had become a way for him to communicate to friends and family that he was well.  Clearly, given his talent for whittling and comedy, and his excellent company at dinner and extensive knowledge, his skills don’t only lie in the kitchen.

Update: You can now view a video put together by the author about the day

The event was organised by Dr Ambrogio Camozzi Pistoja, the current holder of the Keith Sykes Research Fellowship in Italian Studies at Pembroke.

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