Who Is Roberto Panizza?
Known as the King of Pesto, Roberto Panizza is a restauranteur, pesto company owner and creator of the Pesto World Championship who travels the world beating the drum for traditional Genovese pesto.
Roberto Panizza is synonymous with pesto, but more specifically, he is synonymous with Genovese pesto which he passionately believes is the only recipe worthy of the name.
Once described by the BBC as "the man who got the world making pesto by hand", Panizza owns Genoa's famed Il Genovese restaurant but is perhaps best known for his charismatic and infectious demonstrations where he educates people on the traditional way of making pesto. He doesn't just use any old pesto and mortar though... his is a 300-year-old, 50kg marble mortar from a Benedictine monetary and a 5kg walnut pestle!
Despite his love of this traditional production method, he doesn't completely shun modern methods. Panizza heads up a company called Rossi 1947 that produces a pesto bearing his name that is available to the mass market.
Awarded the title "Ambassador of Genoa" by Mayor Marco Bucci, Panizza firmly believes that there is only one pesto, the one made with seven ingredients, and specifically using Genovese basil. He rejects the idea that the word pesto can be liberally used to describe a collection of different sauces. Not that he objects to pesto-inspired sauces, he simply objects to them riding on the coattails of the name "pesto".
One of his proudest achievements is creating the Pesto World Championship which takes place in Genoa every two years. This event sees 100 professional and amateur cooks from all over the world - from New York to Moscow - compete to make the best pesto using identical ingredients. It is the perfect example of how proud the Genovese are of their beloved sauce - and Panizza shows no sign of slowing down in his mission to beat the drum for traditional Genovese pesto to an ever-wider audience.