Chefspective: Giorgio Locatelli, Refettorio

Giorgio Locatelli holding court at the launch of his Sicilian menu

Giorgio Locatelli is not a man to stand still. Twenty-five years after coming to England, he has a fistful of restaurants to his name and a reputation for creative interpretations of Italian classics.

Five years after Made In Italy, Mr Locatelli’s second book Made In Sicily hit bookshelves in September with hundreds of new recipes. To celebrate, he has launched a special menu at Refettorio which we sampled recently. He took a few minutes out of his schedule to tell us his current life and his plans for the future.

Just in case there’s a reader that hasn’t heard of you, can you give us a brief summary of your career and how you got to where you are today?
I was born on the second floor of a restaurant and spent my life in a kitchen. I worked in a family environment until I was 20 and then I started to travel. After working for a short spell in local restaurants in North Italy and Switzerland, I  came to England in 1986 to join the kitchens of Anton Edelmann at The Savoy.

Four years later I moved to Paris and worked at Restaurant Laurent and La Tour D’Argent. On my return to London a couple of years later, I became head chef at Olivo, Eccleston Street, before opening Zafferano in February 1995. I opened my second restaurant, Spighetta, Blandford Street, in July 1997 and its sister restaurant Spiga, Wardour Street, in March 1999.

In 2002, on the 14th of February, my wife Plaxy and I, opened our first independent restaurant, Locanda Locatelli, in Seymour Street. The restaurant has been awarded  a Michelin star in 2003, which has been retained ever since.

Where do you source your seafood? How important is sustainability and using local and British ingredients?
It is very important for us to use British ingredients. We source our ingredients in the closest way possible to the fisheries and farmers.

Where do you like to go when dining out in London?
I like to go home and cook a relaxed dinner with my family.

Where do you shop for your home kitchen?
Divertimenti and the Japanese Knife Company.

How dynamic is the London dining scene and how does it compare with other world cities?
In London we have very different types of cuisine of the highest level compared to other European capitals…they must envy us!

How important is pairing the right wine with the right dish? Any tips on how to do it?
It’s very important especially if you like wine. I concentrate more on the food…

Got any other interesting projects in the works you’d like to share with our readers?
We are still working very hard in our latest venture Tinello. It takes us time to set up new projects. I like to think we are more organic and less business like compared to other companies.

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