Jamie Cooks Italy. Picture by Nathan Adams

Even if you’re not a huge fan of Italian food, there is something that will catch your attention and possibly steal your heart in Jamie Cooks Italy.

The latest offering from the celebrity chef is “a painstaking labour of love” and it shows.

Oliver has previously been vocal about changing the menus at British schools and adding healthier meals for kids, as well as cutting out fast foods.

Some British media used this against him when Jamie Cooks Italy was released, pointing out that some of his dishes are loaded with calories and fat and exceed the recommended daily allowance.

But I’ve found at least four reasons to not dismiss Oliver’s latest cookbook

It’s not about Jamie

Yes, his face is splashed across the cover and his name alone will increase book sales, but this cookbook is actually not a reflection of Oliver’s celeb ego — quite the opposite. 

He’s travelled across Italy with his mentor and Gennaro Contaldo and the book is dedicated to him. 

In each chapter of the book, you’ll find bios and recipes from Italian Nonna’s and Mamma’s and it’s their wisdom which will inspire you to cook Italian.

Step-By-Step guides

Cooking Italian can be intimidating, especially making your own pasta from scratch. 

Dotted throughout the book are handy DIY guides for amongst others, making ravioli, agnolotti and of course breads and pizza doughs.

It’s all about indulgence

Oliver actually does refer to the nutritional value of the recipes in his book. 

Knowing full well that he would be attacked in the press and on social media if he’s recipes are “unhealthy” at the end of the book nutritionist Rozzie Batchelar writes: “Every book has a different brief, and Jamie Cooks Italy is a real celebration of Italian cuisine.”

The disclaimer then follows that you must make informed choices and have “a good balanced, varied diet.” 

So there are recipes that have maximum flavour and might push up your calorie count…..but it’s worth it!

It’s all about Italy

If you’ve ever travelled to Italy you’ll be immediately transported back down memory lane when paging through this book. 

From the meat, fish, pasta and sides, chances are there is a recipe that will inspire you to recreate a taste of Italy at home. 

This is the perfect gift for someone who’s been to Italy and loved the food on their travels. 

Jamie Cooks Italy: From the heart of the Italian kitchen is available from loot.co.za for R299.