The chef is back with an ode to cooking for the whole family. He speaks to Ella Walker about his wild childhood, family cooking and a sensible work-life balance

The Independent – According to Gino D’Acampo, what’s on the dinner table is actually far less crucial than what’s going on around it.

The Italian chef, 45 – known for his tan, family-friendly recipes and a certain level of moodiness – says at dinnertime the “talking is more important than the food, to be honest with you, because there’s no point having a great meal and everybody don’t talk to each other. Or everybody is distracted watching television – that is not the way.”

The D’Acampo household – the presenter and cookbook author shares three children, Luciano, 19, Rocco, 16, Mia, 8, with wife Jessica – eat together at 8pm every night.

“We don’t have mobile phones or television on or radio or anything like that. My family knows that when we eat, there is no distraction,” he explains. “We enjoy the meal, and we talk.”

His kids never really had any choice when it came to appreciating food. “My wife is a great cook, I cook, so all our conversation, all our arguments, all our everything, always happens in the kitchen,” he says intensely. The only rebellions he gets are when it’s time to wash up – but, “I have organised myself for that,” he says with a laugh. “I got two dishwashers in the kitchen, so nobody has any excuses.”

D’Acampo and his family put away their phones and eat together every night