Today ... a day of photographs and interviews, and friends, in Genova.

Today ... with my beautiful award for being that New Zealand competitor.

And my truly incredible friends. 

Without Davide, Alessandra, and Federico, my weekend would have been something else.

Grazie mille to those who taught me a recipe that only had a little too much salt when it mattered.  I am now completely committed to Pesto Genovese made with a mortar and pestle.

The 6th Pesto World Championship ...

Here I am, almost overwhelmed by the joy I feel on returning to Genova.

The photograph possibly captures some of that ... mmmhmm, and in my hands ... that's the bowl of pesto I learned how to make last night.

The journey here was a story in itself but once I arrived in Genova, life became so very busy and full of good people.

I caught up with Davide, Alessandra, Federico and Isabella, at Villa Migone ... that exquisite 15th century house here in the city.  I had my pesto lesson out on the balcony, 17 celsius, generous people and beautiful food.

We ate at the grand dining table, and the pesto ... truly superb.  'John Lennon' played 'Let it be' and it went home with that in my head.

There is so many more stories but I need to return and compete soon.  I have the recipe firmly fixed in my mind, I hope.  I have learned about the soul of garlic, I have learned quantities, and how to beat and grind those ingredients into the sublime sauce known as Genovese Pesto.

I have met old friends, made new friends and, as always, Genova city has made me feel like I have come home ... to the home of a favourite family member, a best friend.  It's a city that, for me, seems like a powerful entity in its own right.  A city I'm so glad I am coming to know.

And the scent of Paola's apartment wrapped itself around me when I arrived, the streets smelt of favourite things, like good coffee and pizza, focaccia and all kinds of other scents that I've missed. 

And last night I fell into bed, hands covered in the perfume that is basil and garlic. 

It was a good day.  Wish me well.  I'm competing, with 100 others from around the world ... in one hour.

"How one man got the world making pesto by hand", writes BBC

I had the good fortune to meet, interview and photograph Roberto Panizza, the man who has the world excited about making pesto by hand.  Here, I caught him in a rare quiet moment, at Il Genovese, the restaurant he and his brother own, in the city of Genova.  I cannot say enough good things about the restaurant ... the menu, the quality of the ingredients, and the friendliness of the staff there.  All are superb.

But Il Genovese is only one of many projects Roberto works on ... more on that in another post.

This weekend, I get to catch up with the man, as I fly in to take part in the 6th Pesto World Championship, hoping to be that New Zealander who makes a good pesto.   While there, I plan to gather as many stories and photographs, as is possible while competing. 

This event is an event that grows larger each time it is held ... a sign, I think, that the world is so very definitely embracing a return to the authentic ... in this case, to the old-fashioned way of making pesto while incorporating a recognition of the growing importance of good ingredients.

Their website tells the story of how it all began ...

I love the idea that it was created in the 90's, by group of friends who had a passion for gastronomy and for the art of being a bon vivant.

They came up with the idea of organising a World Championship for Genoese Pesto, using the mortar ...  Made with a Mortar, Campionato Mondiale di Pesto Genovese al Mortaio and the championship has gone on to become this huge international event that showcases Ligurian excellence.  But more than that, it has become a way of introducing the world to this ancient city, with its fascinating and complex history, loved by the likes of Charles Dickens, and so many other, including this Kiwi.

The association also promotes the culture of cultivating good traditions that start in infancy. It has a non-competitive contest for children, the Campionato dei Bambini, and offers other events dedicated to the little ones during the Rolli Days.

The BBC article is here.

The official recipe is here, on the website but the ingredients ...


  • 4 bunches of fresh PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) Genoese basil, which guarantees high-quality taste and flavour
  • 30 g pine nuts
  • 445-60 g aged Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 20-40 g Fiore Sardo cheese (Pecorino Sardo), grated
  • 1-2 garlic cloves from Vassalico (Imperia)
  • 10 g coarse salt
  • 60-80 cc PDO extra-virgin olive oil from the “Italian Riviera”, renowned for its sweet and fruity taste, which adds flavour to the basil and dressing..

An Update ...

I needed a portrait shot for a testimonial I was giving to Business Coach, Tara Lutman Agacayak.   The photograph was to appear in her newsletter.

Miss 11 decided she would take up the dual challenge that is the weight of my camera gear and getting me to relax ... in front of the camera.  

And so ... this is me lately.  Forgive me the selfies but I am losing weight and getting strong. It's almost as if I need a visual record of this time of huge change:-)

The Genova Pesto World Championship ... & Me

In lovely news, the best news I've had in months... I was recently invited to participate in the World Pesto Championships, in Genova, Italy.

I will be the first-ever New Zealand representative and, one of 100 competitors from around the world, competing to make pesto ... the old-fashioned way. 

Our task will be to prepare Genoese Pesto, using locally sourced, high-quality ingredients and yes, a traditional marble mortar and wooden pestle.

We will be judged by a jury composed of 30 experts ... restaurateurs, chefs and professional testers and they will then select 10 finalists in this year's search for a world pesto champion.

Am I nervous?

Mmmm, a little but honestly, the sheer joy I feel about returning to Genova is so much more and all nervousness disappears.  I have been continuing with my daily life but fighting to contain that bubble of joy that wells up when I think, 'Genova!  Soon!!'

The city, in that low-key yet always superb style I've come to associate with Genova, is opening its doors and you can read about other events here.

There will be news from me.  There will be blog posts.  There will be photographs too ... perhaps an avalanche either while I am there or in the days afterwards.  Although I find myself returning to my massive photo library titled GENOVA, again and again and may blog during these days before flying.

I'm there, in 6-days and really, I can't wait!!

The image above, those are the hands of Roberto Panizza, the king of this pesto kingdom ... demonstrating his skills for one of my photography workshop groups.  He's the loveliest man, that pesto man.  It will be good to see him again!

Ciao from the Kiwi, so absolutely ready to represent New Zealand in Italy.