x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Style File: Giorgio Locatelli

One of the greatest Italian chefs in the UK shares his life's passions and interests.

Giorgio Locatelli at Ronda Locatelli restaurant, The Atlantis Hotel. Jaime Puebla / The National
Giorgio Locatelli at Ronda Locatelli restaurant, The Atlantis Hotel. Jaime Puebla / The National

Giorgio Locatelli is regarded by both his peers and those who frequent his restaurants as one of the greatest Italian chefs working in the UK today. He grew up on the shores of Lake Comabbio in northern Italy, and at just 6 years old was installed in the kitchen at his uncle's restaurant, La Cinzianella. Perched on an upturned crate so he could reach the stove, he was taught to make béchamel sauce. He cut his teeth in esteemed kitchens throughout Europe, spending time working in Switzerland, London and Paris. In 1995, Zafferano opened in Belgravia with Locatelli as head chef; critical acclaim and a deluge of celebrity customers quickly followed. On February 14, 2002, he opened Locanda Locatelli with his wife, Plaxy; the restaurant was awarded a Michelin star (the second of his career) a year later. Locanda Locatelli is renowned for its convivial atmosphere, simple, beautifully cooked food and use of high-quality, luxury ingredients. Locatelli lives in Camden, London with Plaxy and his two children. He is a consultant chef at Ronda Locatelli, Atlantis, Palm Jumeirah. He talks to Emily Shardlow about his passions and favourite things.

Forest Gump is one of my favourite films; I love Forest's sincerity. All About Eve is another favourite. I love the character of Margo Channing who is a feisty, strong woman.

Years ago, when I was penniless and living in a bed-sit in London, I stuck a postcard of Rousseau's The Dream on the wall. I think dreams are important.

I'm not good at lying on the beach; when I go on holiday, I like to explore. For me, Italy, most often Sicily, is the place.

My favourite cookbook is Il Cuoco Galante (The Courteous Cook), which, when it was published [in 1773] , was the first to include pasta and tomatoes in the same recipe.

Sixteen years ago I decided to have a go at producing my own olive oil. Now I'm extremely proud of our Locadeli olive oil.

My signature look is elegant and relaxed. For suits, I love Corneliani.

My favourite restaurant in the world is Da Vittorio in Sicily. It's right by the beach and there's no menu, you eat what ever is freshest out of the sea.

Marshmallows are my guilty pleasure; everywhere I go, whether I'm in my car or on my Vespa, I find an excuse to stop and buy some.

The chef I most admire is Gualtiero Marchesi.

My most memorable meal will always be the zuppa di pesce (fish soup) that I cooked and ate with my wife, Plaxy, during a storm, overlooking a beach.

Sometimes they drive me crazy, but I'm happiest when I'm with my family. I love pottering around at home, and now it's winter I make a fire every night, which I find very relaxing.

I adore truffles. Every year, I try to visit Umbria at the start of the season. My passion for them never wanes.

My favourite fragrance is Chanel Egoiste.

I listen to a wide variety of music, but top of the list is definitely reggae. That said, I'm also a big fan of Johnny Cash.

The books on my beside table are Il Capo dei Capi' by Attilio Bolzoni, Street Fight in Naples by Peter Robb and Leonardo Sciascia's The Day of the Owl.

I can't cook without a sharp knife. In my opinion, the Japanese Knife Company in London makes the very best.

My wife recently gave me a beautiful necklace with delicate cooking implements attached. I already love it.

My ideal weekend would be spent with my family, by the seaside.

For grooming products, I really like the Aveda range.

 

LOCATELLI'S WORLD

MY LIFE MOTTO IS... live every day as if it were your last. MY GREATEST ACHIEVEMENT SO FAR IS... still being sane. That and waking up in the morning and enjoying what I do. FIVE WORDS TO DESCRIBE ME ARE... very, very, very good looking.

THE BEST PIECE OF ADVICE I HAVE EVER BEEN GIVEN IS... what doesn't break you makes you stronger and you reap what you sow.

THE LOVE OF MY LIFE IS... my wife, Plaxy. She keeps me grounded and makes sure that I stay true to my roots, which is so important.

I DRAW INSPIRATION FROM... mostly from ingredients but also from moments spent with special people.

THE THING THAT IRRITATES ME MOST IN LIFE IS... disloyalty.

I AM DRIVEN BY... a quest for perfection. Every lunch and dinner service is a daily challenge - it's what makes me carry on.