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Q&A with Veruska Anconitano of The Foodellers

Veruska Anconitano is an Italian Food and Travel Journalist who has called Dublin her home for the past 10 years. Veruska is a freelance Content Marketer, a Digital Strategist, a member of the British Guild of Travel Writers, a certified Sommelier and the co-founder of The Foodellers – a web magazine about food and travel around the world. Her passion for all things food and travel are evident through the experiences she writes about. And her energy to keep her passion alive comes from a life long ambition to explore, and from her life partner, talented Photographer, and The Foodellers co-founder Giuseppe Milo.

We’re delighted to feature Veruska here on The Life of Stuff Food & Drink Series. For delicious and authentic recipes, and Irish and world travel inspiration – connect with Veruska and Giuseppe via thefoodellers.com Website and The Foodellers on Instagram. But for now let’s get to know Veruska Anconitano a little more.

The Food & Drink Series – with Food & Travel Journalist Veruska Anconitano
Photograph by Giuseppe Milo

Q&A with Food & Travel Journalist Veruska Anconitano of The Foodellers

What came first – the love of food or the love of travel?

Being Italian, I grew up with the idea of food as one of the most important things in life, so I must say that for me food – it’s not just love, it’s a cultural thing, it’s something that has always been with me, and always will. Love for travel came when I was a child: my parents didn’t travel much, aside from Italy, but somehow I developed this extreme curiosity along with a strong interest in becoming a journalist so I started to read, a lot. At 8 years old I experienced my first trip abroad, alone: my parents sent me abroad with family friends, and from this everything started.

How long have you been a Food and Travel Journalist?

I’ve been a professional journalist for over 20 years, but I also moved to food and travel about 11-12 years ago.

 

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What inspired you to become a Cook? Did you receive any formal training?

I could give you a very romantic answer and quote my “nonna” because this would be an amazing story. The reality is that I left home at 18 years old and went studying abroad: it’s when I noticed I somehow loved to cook, and from being just a way to survive it became something I really enjoyed, for me and the others. I certainly had great teachers at home, but I hadn’t noticed before going to live alone far from Rome and I had to start cooking if I didn’t want to die 🙂  Formal training came later when cooking became part of my job.

What inspired you to become a Journalist? Did you study journalism?

I wanted to become a news reporter – since I was a child, and the biggest influence was my dad: a very informed person with terrific knowledge, who always had a newspaper with him. I did everything to make it happen. My first story was published when I was 11-12 years old by a very local newspaper, so after my classical studies, I decided to study marketing and communication and specialise in Journalism. To become a recognised journalist in Italy you have to qualify and pass an exam, so that’s what I did. Except then I realised that I was working more with foreign countries than with Italy and qualifying would have served me little 🙂  But still…

 

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Where do you get inspiration from – for your recipes?

Italian cuisine and, most of all, cuisine from the Southern part of Italy, Rome, and Naples first. I love cooking traditional recipes and experimenting with them (I’m now in the no-refined-sugar no-refined-flour phase and it’s pretty rewarding!).

Do you have a signature style/dish?

Pasta Carbonara, no doubt at all. I’ve debated with chefs, people, pretty much everyone in the whole world about it. If there’s something I hate, it’s when people call Carbonara something that’s not Carbonara! If you wanna see me (really) mad, show me crappy carbonara pasta and I’ll give you a free show!

 

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The Foodellers is a hugely popular website with approx 50k followers on instagram alone

Where did the site begin life – in Italy, Ireland or on the road?

The site began in Ireland, a few months after we moved. It was November 2010 and I wanted a place to collect recipes I usually made at home or my family’s recipes. It started in Italian and after a month it really had a boom. Today it’s both in Italian and in English: we’re conscious that English is not our primary language, so we often joke about it and how we write, just to be sure people understand who we are.

 

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What was the inspiration behind the sites creation?

Giuseppe and I were already the proud owners of one of the most read and famous Italian digital magazines (now sold) but The Foodellers has born as my whim, just to collect recipes and without any ambition. At the beginning, I had created the graphic and it was so bad that Giuseppe forbade me to publish it 🙂  So it started to work on it from a design and tech standpoint.

How long has it taken to grow such a following?

A lot for a personal choice. We don’t use Instagram much, we focus on the magazine and its growth, and Instagram is just something more, but it doesn’t bring much and we don’t push it. We’re really happy with the number of readers we have monthly, and this requires way much more effort and time.

 

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What has been its greatest achievement?

Aside from crazy numbers in terms of readers, I would say the biggest achievement comes in every time someone writes to us saying they’ve tried one of our recipes or followed one of our culinary suggestions and want to thank us.

My strong opinion is that Food and Travel are a culture intertwined – do you agree with this and how important is this opinion to you?

Absolutely! For me, the best way to know a place is through its food, and that’s why I hate cultural appropriation when it comes to food. Authenticity must be key because food is culture.

 

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Where has been the best experience, and the worst?

Hard to recall, we’ve had so many experiences over the years! Surely one of the best ones has been South Korea: I personally am a lover of everything from SK and having a chance to visit the country and discover it through its food has been crazy. I still remember eating the “penis fish” and almost throwing up in the street.

What’s your view on Irish Food Culture?

Irish food is blooming and I love seeing this happening. What I don’t understand is why so many people/chefs feel the need to copy other places and trends. A few years back it was the donuts, now it’s pizza, what’s next? There are so many products on the Island that I seriously think the focus should be on creating something original rather than copying what other countries are doing and do at their best (ehm, I’m referring to pizza, of course 😀 )

 

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You obviously love Ireland as it has been your home for over a decade – where have your most memorable food and travel experiences taken place?

There are a lot of places I could quote but still today one of the best is the dinner I had at The Wild Honey Inn in Clare: it’s a pub but the food is so good and the ingredients so fresh and so well prepared that the guys got a Michelin star. We visited months before the Star and it didn’t surprise me to see them on the list.

If you could be the fly on the wall of any kitchen in the world – what establishment would it be?

David Chang’s Momofuku, no doubts at all; I’ve eaten there a few times, and it’s one of my favorite places in the world. The guy is a genius, he mixes his Korean heritage with international techniques and flavours and the results are unbelievable. I like how honest it is when it comes to cooking, he’s a worldwide famous chef but he hasn’t lost his identity.

What can we expect from The Foodellers in the future?

Good question and the answer to it, it’s always the same: who knows? I like to think that the best is yet to come and in this case, it’s really true.

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Edwina O'Connor
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