Interview With Giorgio Locatelli

Born into a cooking dynasty in Corgeno on the shores of Lake Comabbio in Northern Italy, Giorgio Locatelli is considered by many to be one of the finest Italian chefs in the UK. We spoke with the ‘king of truffles’ to find out more about his inspirations, how he celebrated his Michelin star and his favourite dish recommendations.

What inspired you to become a chef?
My grandmother was a huge influence on me. She was the first person to introduce me to the art of cooking and for that, I am eternally grateful.

How did you celebrate being awarded a Michelin star?
To be honest, I can’t remember much of the evening … but I do know that it was a great night of celebrations with my close family and friends who have always supported me through everything.

Tell us more about your culinary background…
I grew up cooking in my family restaurant on the bay of Corgeno in Lombardy. It was there that I learned so much about the conviviality of food and also the value of local produce. It was all about good, honest, local food which is what I still stand by today. I then worked in both London and Paris before opening Zafferano in 1995.

What has been the proudest moment in your career so far?
It definitely has to be receiving the Michelin. It’s a great feeling knowing your effort and passion have been recognized and it pushes you to go even further.

What’s your favourite midnight snack?
It would have to be fresh bread with thin slices of Prosciutto di San Daniele. It’s very simple to make and the prosciutto, with its sweet and aromatic flavour is of such high quality – I really could eat it any time.

If you weren’t a chef, which career would you like to pursue?
Although I’m not sure my wife would be too happy about it, it would have to be a career in motorbike racing! It is something that I’ve always loved.

What’s your current favourite dish on the menu?
From our menu, my favourite dish at the moment and one that I’d definitely recommend trying would be the marinated anchovies, smoked potato, puntarelle, radicchio, green sauce.

Do you have any tips for aspiring chefs?
My top two tips would be to work hard and consider the first 10 years of your career as an investment for your future.

Do you have a favourite white truffle dish?
It would have to be a simple white risotto using Grana Padano with shavings of fresh white truffle to finish. In particular I’d recommend using the Grana Padano, aged for over 16 months, as it has a stronger, tangy taste that makes it great for hot dishes like this.

How would you describe your style of cooking?
I would say my style is regional Italian cooking. Growing up in Northern Italy, the cuisine is generally characterized by a heavier reliance on butter, rice, corn and cheeses for cream sauces so quite a bit of my style is reflected in that.

What provides you with inspiration?
Travelling the world provides me with so much inspiration as I particularly enjoy food from different cultures and seeing the various styles of cooking.

Do you have any role models?
I have two main role models: Nino Bergese who, in my opinion, is one of the greatest Italian chefs of all time and also Auguste Escoffier.  They are simply the best for me.

What food takes you back to childhood?
Gnocchi always reminds me of my childhood. I remember watching my mother and grandmother making them on the kitchen table when I was just tall enough to see over the top of the table. It was mesmerizing.

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