TV Chef Cookery Demo at Hull Museums

Chef and TV presenter Joe Hurd is returning to his roots and the place where he developed his passion for Italian food – Hull.

Joe, who presents cooking shows on the Discovery and Travel Channel, as well as being a guest presenter on the BBC’s Saturday Kitchen, returns to Hull on Saturday 7 April to give a free cooking demonstration at the Museums Quarter in Hull’s Old Town.

Joe’s love for food developed into a career that, as well as appearing on TV as a presenter, has seen him working in restaurants alongside revered chefs such as Francesco Mazzei, Claude Bosi and José Pizarro.

At the cooking demonstration Joe will also share stories about growing up in Hull in an Italian family obsessed by food.

Joe, said: "My family came to Hull in the first wave of immigrants from the Italian diaspora, and like many families came and went pretty much for over a century.

“We had a number of businesses, all centred around food, from the small holdings in Endyke Lane, an Italian grocery shop in West Street and my uncle Vince's fruit and veg business on Humber Street. 

“I grew up in the city, brought up by an Italian family to love where we had settled, but also cherish our heritage. Yeah the water back in Italy may be slightly bluer than the Humber, and the sun shines for a lot longer than it does in the East Riding, but the two have many similarities which have shaped my life, and I try and celebrate them every day.

"I can’t wait to come back to Hull and share my family’s experiences and history with the city that gave us so many opportunities from when we arrived to the present day. I know for a fact that the career I have built for myself today, both on and off screen, wouldn't be what it was if I hadn't grown up in the Hull/Italian community" 

He first learned how to make pasta with his grandpa John (Giovanni Bottari) and family friend Rosaria Penna.

Rosaria will also be giving a cooking demonstration on the day, where she will be making fresh pasta before Joe cooks it.

Rosaria, said: “When I came to England I was fortunate enough to have joined a good Italian family that loved its traditions and, most of all, good food.

“Back in the mid-sixties Italian food products were very scarce here in Hull and many Italian families would send away to Camisa in London and to Pacchini in Glasgow for olive oil, pasta, olives and many other ingredients.

“Joe’s uncle Vince had a business in Humber Street and, being a good friend of the Penna family, would, when any Italian vegetables - aubergines, peppers, artichokes and many others - arrived on lorries from the continent, let us have a good supply.

“The photograph with Joe was an experience I will never forgot.

“At an open day in the Civic Hall in Cottingham I was asked to demonstrate how to make fresh pasta. My good friend John Bottari brought along Joe, his grandson, and as you can see from his face he was totally fascinated and a good helper too when I asked him if he would like to have a try…well, the rest is history.

“Joe, of course, has come a long way from that time when he had his first attempt at making pasta but we still have a good time with him and his family when he comes back from London and makes lovely food for his auntie Rosaria.”

The free event on Saturday 7 April, called Dig In, is from 11am – 3pm.

Dig In has been organised following the fantastic response to the Italian Connections exhibition at the Streetlife Museum, which opened in February.

As well as Joe and Rosaria’s cooking demonstrations that will take place throughout the day, there will be a chance for children to try their hand at being an archaeologist, digging up Roman and Italian artefacts and treasures in an interactive archaeology activity.

There will also be live music and other activities.

Sarah Taylor, Art and Heritage Project Developer, Hull Culture and Leisure Limited, said: “Although Hull has had a long history of connections with Italy from as far back as the Romans, we were surprised with the number of links we found and Italian artefacts that we have in our collection once we stopped to look for them.

“Since the Italian Connection exhibition’s launch in February, the response from members of the public has been colossal, with people bringing in photos, emailing me their own Italian family legends and bringing to attention other artefacts in the museums’ collections that have ties to Hull’s Italian community.

“The whole project has been a bit of a magic mystery tour - I could never have guessed that Hull had such an Italian influence and I have enjoyed meeting so many people who are so happy to share such an interesting part of Hull’s culture.”

Hull School of Art and Design has produced a virtual reality Italian artist’s studio, based on Pietro Lorenzetti’s, especially for the Italian Connection exhibition.

On 7 April, people will be able to access the VR studio in the East Riding Museum in the Museums Quarter and step back in time to medieval Sienna.

The event is part of a wider project looking at Hull’s heritage and connections to Italy.

The Italian Connections Exhibition, currently on at the Streetlife Museum, explores Hull’s connection with Italy going all the way back to the 14th Century and tells the history of a number of Italian families in Hull.

Italian Connections runs until 1 July.

Italian families attending Dig In on 7 April are invited to bring along their own photos and heirlooms and use a photo booth to add their own family history to the story of Italians in Hull.

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