“I love the idea that someone can come to the restaurant pissed off and leave happy,’ says Giorgio Locatelli.
Giorgio Locatelli is an Italian chef, author of an award-winning cook book, participant of a several TV shows, as well as a wonderful husband and father. He has long been one of the most recognized Italian chefs both in his home country and around the world thanks to his authentic and sophisticated dishes that follow recipes of his grandmother and perfected the highest standards of Italian cuisine.
Giorgio Locatelli was born and raised in Italy, not far from Lake Comabbio in Corgeno . From the age of 5, he helped in a family restaurant, that earned more than one Michelin star. It was his uncle that pushed him to become a chef. Once, while working in the restaurant, a 16-year-old Locatelli, threw the shrimp into the water, which hadn’t boiled yet. After that accident, his uncle told him: “You will never become the chef of the kitchen.” As Locatelli likes to tell, it was then that in him, as in a real Italian, blood began to boil and he began to study hard, to get culinary practice wherever it was possible: in Italy, France, Switzerland. But success did not come in his hometown. Life brought him to England where he achieved success.
Georgio has been married to his wife Plaxy for more than 20 years. The couple live with their kids Margherita, known as Dita, and Jack, in Camden, north London.
In the beginning of his career , Locatelli used to work in local restaurants in north Italy and Switzerland. After he went to England in 1986 to join the kitchens of Anton Edelmann at The Savoy. In 1990, Locatelli moved to Paris and worked at Restaurant Laurent and La Tour d’Argent.
Locatelli himself considers the period of work in Paris the most depressing. In one of his interviews, he says that he did not converge with the French mentality, and after returning to Italy, he shared his feelings with his mother. To which she replied: why don’t you become the best Italian chef, not French. Locatelli didn’t like the idea. And he and his friends went on a trip to Spain and Africa, and during this trip Locatelli realized that still wants to return to Italian cuisine. Just at this time his friend opened the Olivo restaurant on Eccleston Street. Locatelli worked there for 4 years.
After he opened Zafferano restaurant in 1995. Zafferano won “Best Italian Restaurant” at the London Carlton Restaurant Awards two years in a row, and landed his first Michelin star in 1999. Much of the eatery’s produce for restaraunt was imported directly from Italy. Later Giorgio went on to open Spighetta, in Blandford Street, in July 1997 – and Spiga, on Wardour Street, in March 1999.
He left Zafferano in 2001 and the other two restaurants have since closed.
In 2002, Giorgio and his wife Plaxy, opened Locanda Locatelli, in Seymour Street.
The restaurant was awarded a Michelin star in 2003, and has retained the title every year since.
The status of Locatelli became so obvious that the owners of the resort Atlantis The Palm, located on The Palm Jumeirah – a fantastic artificial island in Dubai, offered him to open a restaurant. Now even in Dubai you can taste pizza cooked in a real oven in the restaurant Ronda Locatelli.
This is what Giorgio says about Ronda Locatelli: “We are not running a restaurant from London. We believe we are part of a society here in Dubai. The emirate is such a melting pot, allowing, for example, an Indonesian chef to be sous chef in an Italian restaurant. That’s what Dubai is all about, for me. The restaurant is like a social experiment. The only thing I can do is get people to grow within it. But the moment we believe you understand in that way, it doesn’t matter where you come from.’
The Giorgio’s restaurant welcomes everyone. The success of Locanda Locatelli, of course, also relies on its extra glamorous clientele. Celebrities love spending time here: Madonna, Robbie Williams, Johnny Depp and the Beckham family are all regular customers. There are special dishes for children, vegetarians and even for allergy sufferers who will prepare dishes especially for them. The fact is that Locatelli’s daughter Margherita was born with a rare disease. In this connection, Giorgio and his wife had to constantly invent new dishes for Margherita. She has food allergies to more than 600 products, including most of the products that make Italian cuisine Italian. Because of that, Giorgio pays attention to have special menu for allergic people.
Giorgio has starred in four TV series – Pure Italian, Tony and Giorgio, Sicily Unpacked and Italy Unpacked. He was also featured in BBC2’s British Food Revival. The programs had great success, as did Giorgio Locatelli himself. It is impossible not to admire his passion for cooking, pure love for Italian cuisine and Italy itself.
After the television programs, books came out. First in 2006 “Made in Italy”, then “Made in Sicily”. “Made in Italy” has received the Best Food Book award at the Glenfiddich Food and Drink Awards 2007. The books are written with such a love for Italy and Italian cuisine, that unwittingly you begin to love everything that Locatelli writes.
Also, the chef has a title from the Italian Ambassador for services to gastronomy, which is the equivalent of a British knighthood.
And finally, I want to share with you my favorite quotes from his books:
1) Simplicity but attention to detail. You can create a dish of just a couple of ingredients, but to work out the technique of preparation to the ideal.
2) The more expensive and tastier the product, the easier it should be prepared.
3) the Freshness of the products is the key point in its cooking. All products must be fresh and of excellent quality. It is better to save on quantity, but not on quality.
4) Use the maximum of what You have with respect to the product. Buying a bird, enjoy meat, cook something from offal and do not forget about the rich broth of bones. This is almost a culinary philosophy…
I’ll go open “Made in Italy” and pick out something delicious for dinner. Do you know what you’re going to cook today?
Buon appetito, amici!