Meet the Chef - Maria Frida Valitutto, Salvi’s, Manchester

Chef

Maria Frida Valitutto of Salvi’s - Credit: Sophie Hutton

For bone fide Italian, Salvi’s has become Manchester’s reliably authentic take on a trattoria with restaurants in the Northern Quarter and the Corn Exchange. Here, head chef Maria Frida Valitutto reveals her favourite foodie memories and moments… 

First dish you learned to cook: My dad taught me: we started with dessert, the pastiera. This is a traditional dessert from the city where I come from Salerno, in Campania, close to the Amalfi Coast. 

Most vivid childhood food memory: Above all, it would have to be pizza. Every Saturday we would go out for pizza and each time it would be a different place. Or, in winter very often (when it was too cold outside) we prepared homemade pizza for everyone in the family. I think many Italians like me would agree. 

Most memorable meal out:
Last August we went to a beautiful place near Positano on the Amalfi Coast called Ciccio Cielo Mare e Terra for my 30th birthday. We ate seafood salad, beef carpaccio, the freshest seafood with the freshest gnocchi with cream of potato and lemon – bellissimo. 

Favourite ingredient:
Fresh pasta such as ravioli or lasagne and I love buffalo mozzarella. Every time I go back to Italy for the holidays it’s the first food my mother makes me that I will always find at the table for lunch. 

Ingredient you loathe: The entrails of animals such as the liver. They have a texture and an aspect to them that I have never liked. Then there is spinach. I am a lover of vegetables, however, spinach tastes too much like iron in my mouth. 

Favourite place to eat: I love the Hawksmoor in Manchester. They cook fabulous beef. I am obsessed with their sides of mac and cheese and mashed potato. 

Describe your cooking style in three words: Tradition, love, and discovery. My job is to reproduce traditional dishes from my country that will never die. However, I also love to experiment and discover new combinations while always using fresh produce without altering them.  

If you weren’t a chef, what would you be?
An interior designer. I find it a very dynamic job and one that gives freedom to the imagination, in some respects like the job of a chef because you are allowed to create. 

Favourite countries when it comes to food:
Spain and Portugal. I love these cuisines because I love to share food like tapas. Italian food is the same – it is simple and enjoyable. If you want to go out for food with your friends, I think it is a great idea to share so you can try lots of different small plates. 

Tell us about the menu at Salvi’s:
The Salvi’s menu is the right compromise to taste a little of all the dishes. You will find arancini, pasta carbonara or a succulent tiramisu – and our customers keep coming back. 

What are the food philosophies?
For me, it is a memory: from holidays with my grandma to my mother and father., such as at Easter when we used to cook pastiera.  

What’s your food guilty pleasure?
I love ice cream and desserts with cream. But what I could never give up is pistachio ice cream, I love it so much. 

When you’re not in the kitchen, what do you get up to?  I like to go swimming to relax, shop or if I can, visit a new place. Most of all I like to always go for dinner in different restaurants, trying new dishes and taking inspiration for new recipes. 

Salvi’s 
60-67A High Street, Manchester M4 1FS
https://salvismanchester.co.uk/