At Italy On This Day you will read about events and festivals, about important moments in history, and about the people who have made Italy the country it is today, and where they came from. Italy is a country rich in art and music, fashion and design, food and wine, sporting achievement and political diversity. Italy On This Day provides fascinating insights to help you enjoy it all the more.

17 July 2017

Gino D'Acampo - celebrity chef

Neapolitan inherited talent from grandfather

Gino D'Acampo's grandfather had a  restaurant in Naples
Gino D'Acampo's grandfather had a
restaurant in Naples
The celebrity chef Gino D’Acampo was born on this day in 1976 in Torre del Greco, a conurbation of around 90,000 inhabitants within the Metropolitan City of Naples.

Based in England since 1995, D’Acampo is scarcely known in his native country yet his social media pages have more than two and a half million followers.

The author of 11 books on cooking, his numerous television appearances include four series of his own show, Gino’s Italian Escapes.

He owns three restaurants and five pasta bars and has plans to open more.  The latest, in fact, launches in Liverpool later this week.  D’Acampo is also the co-owner of a company selling Italian ingredients.

His success is all the more remarkable given that he had to rebuild his life after being convicted in 1998 of burglary, an episode that took place while he was working as a waiter. He described the incident as a mistake he vowed never to repeat and has since spent time helping disadvantaged young people to learn from their mistakes.

D'Acampo's appearance on a reality TV show helped launch his career
D'Acampo's appearance on a reality TV
show helped launch his career
Born Gennaro d’Acampo, he grew up around food. His grandfather, Giovanni, who had been head chef for a cruise company, owned a restaurant and although he had early aspirations to become a doctor or a dentist, he eventually enrolled at the Luigi de Medici catering school in Naples.

He arrived in England via Spain, where he met the girl who would become his wife, Jessica, who is English with Italian heritage, while they were both working at a restaurant in Marbella owned by the American movie actor, Sylvester Stallone.

In England he worked at restaurants in Hampstead and Guildford before he becoming involved in sourcing Italian ingredients, which in turn led to work designing ready meals for a supermarket chain.

His first television appearances came on the UKTV Good Food channel and the ITV magazine show This Morning, but it was his decision to take part in a reality TV show that became the launch pad for his career.  Signed up for ITV’s popular I’m a Celebrity…Get Me out of Here! in 2009, he emerged from the show, in which contestants live in a jungle conditions in Australia and undertake a series of often unpleasant challenges, as the winner.

D’Acampo became a regular on This Morning and was given his first cookery TV series in 2011, when he co-hosted Let’s do Lunch with Gino and Mel alongside the presenter and model Melanie Sykes.

Gino D'Acampo with the singer Peter Andre on one of his shows on UK television
Gino D'Acampo with the singer Peter Andre on
one of his shows on UK television
One of the features of the programme involved D’Acampo making record attempts, often but not always involving food and drink.  He has been listed in the Guinness Book of Records for the most ravioli made on two minutes, the most truffles made in two minutes, the most bottles of champagne – seven – opened in one minute, the most jumpers – 11 – put on in one minute, the most Christmas crackers pulled on one minute and – most bizarrely – for the most steps taken across a giant bowl of custard before sinking.

D’Acampo most successful TV venture, Gino’s Italian Escape, launched in 2013 and has spawned a live stage version, with which he has toured the UK.

His first book Fantastico! was published in 2007 and his latest, Gino’s Healthy Italian for Less, in 2017.

A member of the Federazione Italiana Cuochi and the Associazione Professionale Cuochi Italiani, he has homes in Hertfordshire and Sardinia. He and Jessica, who were married in 2002, have two sons, Luciano and Rocco.

Torre del Greco illuminated by the setting sun with Vesuvius in the background
Torre del Greco illuminated by the setting sun with
Vesuvius in the background
Travel tip:

Once colonised by Greek settlers and later a prosperous Roman suburb of Herculaneum before it was buried by the 79AD eruption of Vesuvius, Torre del Greco is thought to take its name from being the site of a watchtower in the eighth century that was occupied by a Greek hermit.  In more modern times, it became a popular holiday resort with wealthy Italians in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.  It was renowned for its cafés and eateries, particularly the Gran Caffè Palumbo, a large Art Nouveau café with an extensive outdoor pavilion.  It owed its popularity to a combination of fine beaches and the proximity of farmlands and vineyards, as well being the town closest to Vesuvius. A funicular railway (the Vesuvius Funicular) was built to take tourists to the crater from the town.

The Piazza Municipio in the historic centre of Alghero
The Piazza Municipio in the historic centre of Alghero
Travel tip:

The Italian island of Sardinia boasts beautiful beaches and coves and a mountainous interior with fascinating towns and villages. It has a reputation as a playground for the rich and famous but in Alghero, a town of 44,000 people on the north-west side of the island, it boasts a destination with a delightful historic centre and a sandy beach that is entirely accessible to travellers with more modest spending power. It has excellent seafood restaurants and plenty of bars from which to watch spectacular sunsets. The town’s economy is not reliant on tourism, although it is busy in July and August.

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