Friends of Wüsthof: Callie-Anne Gavazzi
Callie-Anne Gavazzi has taken a childhood passion for tasty, local food to a global audience with her show Callie-Anne Cooks: Into The Wild, broadcast in Asia, Cyprus, Malta, the Middle East and Africa on ITV Choice.
Mixing an adventurous spirit, infectious enthusiasm and a can-do attitude, Callie-Anne takes viewers into unexplored corners of the continent, delivering some surprising foodie experiences along the way – from crocodile egg pizza to bush-baked garlic bread.
Her earliest foodie memory is sitting with her Dad, Simon, and eating oysters as he shucked them straight off the rocks in Mozambique. “I think I fell in love with food then, and I didn’t even know it yet,” she says. A stint in London opened her eyes to international flavours, but a return home to manage a family bush lodge in Mozambique really kick-started her culinary journey. “I was always obsessed with eating out – be it at food markets, restaurants or pubs,” she says. “I guess when I got to Mozambique, the passion became a career path”.
A stint on MasterChef South Africa, where she made it to the Top 25, gave her the hunger to succeed in the culinary world. “I was so determined to carry out my dream, so much so that I fought for it - until I finally got my own TV show,” she says. “I feel as though it gave me the drive I needed to reach my dreams. And it just proves, if you want it badly enough, you will get it”.
While much of her cooking on the show is done over flames or in improvised bush ovens, Callie-Anne says her one kitchen essential is her Wüsthof Classic Ikon Chef’s Knife. “I love using it with everything - even the things you don’t need to use it for, yup, I use it,” she says. “It’s my favourite and it makes me feel super confident in the kitchen”. When she’s on the road, her knives travel along with her in a case. “I don’t let anyone else use or wash my knives – if I do it myself, I know they’ll always be in perfect condition, and safe”. Her slickest knife skills – she says, modestly - are being able to fillet a fish, debone a chicken and take a sirloin off the bone, cleanly and in a heartbeat. “You can’t do that with dull knives, so keeping them sharp is really important – you can damage a knife if you use it while its dull,” she says.
Her foodie hero is Jamie Oliver, because of the way he’s passionate about creating food that’s relatable. “He cooks food for all the right reasons – food we can all create, food that’s sustainable and balanced,” she says. “I aspire to be like him in my own way - making a difference and inspiring other people with what I have to share, from my own food journey!” Given the tough choice of planning a hypothetical 3-course menu for her idol, she puts her faith firmly in simple, African-inspired food. Her chosen starter would be fresh and spicy Cahora Bassa bream cakes, topped with homemade aioli. For main, a homemade tagliatelle pasta, in a marinara-meets-oxtail ragout and to finish, her wicked African-inspired Tiramisu, made with Amarula cream.
With simplicity at the heart of all Callie-Anne’s cooking, it’s no surprise she thinks that the most common mistake amateur cooks make in the kitchen is overthinking things. “Cooking is about instinct. You must feel confident with your way, with your style and with your methods,” she says. “It’s all about the way the food tastes at the end of the day - and if it tastes good, how you got there is irrelevant! ‘Cook with confidence’, that’s my motto”.
In terms of foodie trends, Callie-Anne names anchovies as one of the most underrated ingredients any cook can use. “I don’t think people realise what a difference anchovies can make to a dish,” she says. “The love I have for an anchovy in all my cooking is crazy. It imparts such great flavor. I think it’s the fear of anchovies, not the actual taste, that stops people from using them – but they are so versatile and I am totally obsessed!” As for overrated trends, she can’t wait to see the back of the Smoothie Bowl. “I can’t think of anything worse than eating food in a soup form - when it’s not soup,” she says. “Smoothies are smoothies for a reason and are to be sipped out of a straw like a milkshake! There are better ways to eat healthy…”