To celebrate Jamie Italians’ new winter menu Giles is  invited to a pizza making masterclass with Gennaro Contaldo, at Jamie’s Olivers cookery school, Westfield, London.

Gennaro ContaldoGennaro has had a long term association with Jamie Oliver, whom he first mentored at Neal Street Restaurant in the early 90s. Growing up along the Amalfi Coast, Gennaro developed a love of food from the days he spent collecting herbs for his mother and hunting in the hills with his father.

Today he remains a close friend and business partner of Jamie. Between them, and a team of young, talented chefs at Jamie’s Italian, they have developed six new artisan pizzas.

The first pizza Gennaro talked us through was’The Julietta’; Jamie’s turbo-charged take on the classic Margherita, named after his wife Jools in celebration of her favourite pizza.

Slow-roasted tomatoes are dotted with the fresh basil leaves, incredibly creamy buffalo mozzarella and 24-month-aged Parmesan from Virgilio. It’s all topped with a generous glug of extra virgin olive oil and cracked black pepper.

I replicated this pizza on the night and it was well worth the effort. It was a simple, rustic composition with few ingredients, so good quality produce was integral to its success.

After a quick break, Gennaro took us onto the 2nd pizza,’The Porkie’. As you might have guessed this is a meatier edition to the winter menu. It was loaded with salty Westcombe Jacks Cheese and dotted with pepperoni, smoky pancetta, and spicy salami.

All the meat is sourced from London based supplier, Cobble Lane Cured. Employing a whole range of processes and preparations, Cobble Lane Cured transforms raw British meat products into delicious hams, salamis, whole cuts, sausages and bacon.

The quality of the sausage meat shone through and ensured the pizza lived up to its name. If meat is your thing then look no further.

As the night progressed, Gennaro and the chefs talked us through their approach to sourcing. An obsession with every ingredient ensures every pizza maximises on flavour. From the salt to tomatoes, the cheese to the oregano, no ingredient is left unscrutinised by Jamie and his team before it’s put on the menu.

I also welcomed their strong tendency to use British produce from British suppliers, all of which are visited and certified prior to any commercial agreements.

In the words of Jamie himself, “Yea it’s a pizza, but for me and my team it needs to embody exactly the same values as other dishes – higher welfare meat, better sourcing of ingredients and a whole lot of love.”

Jamie’s new winter menu offers 6 new pizzas, find a list of them here.

For bookings at Jamie’s Italian, go here.