We chat with Gonzalo Luzarraga, Executive Chef and co-founder of RIGO’ in Fulham to learn more about the inspirations behind his dishes, gastronomic role models and why he can’t get enough of truffles when the weather turns cold.
What inspired you to become a chef?
I spent my childhood on the French border of Italy in Piedmonte and was surrounded by diverse flavours and native ingredients, so have always been immersed in food from a young age. My grandfather was a pastry chef, he taught me the foundations of cooking and a respect for crafting food.
I remember making biscuits with him every weekend, his coconut cookies were my favourite and the smell filled the entire house. My father is from Spain and he used to cook every Sunday, this was his favourite time of the week, and his passion inspired me to pursue a career in food.
What’s the most rewarding part of your job?
I love seeing a final dish all come together, and the happiness it brings to my friends, family and guests at the restaurant. I love to use classic techniques I learned in Italy, and introduce flavours I have discovered from my travels.
What keeps you inspired?
For me, it’s important to travel and eat as much as possible! Only when I manage to escape the kitchen, of course. There is always a new ingredient to discover, or a new technique to learn, or develop. I want to show diners something new and share the excitement I feel when I explore new cuisines and traditions.
You’ve worked in a few kitchens. Do you have any favourites?
This is very difficult! It would have to be Flipot, a 2 Michelin star fine dining restaurant in Piedmonte. During my time here, in 2002, I was first introduced to foraging. We used to hike up the mountains to find herbs and flowers. I admired the restaurant’s strong relationships with their suppliers, they were part of the family. The fishermen and farmers used to visit the kitchen regularly, and bring in their produce – every day was a surprise!
Describe your perfect winter dish.
Anything with truffle in it! For me, truffle is winter and it also reminds me of my family. My uncle used to hunt for truffles every year, and at home we regularly made my favourite dish of all time – polenta, egg and truffle. We have a special truffle menu on at RIGO’ for the season this year.
Name three of your favourite restaurants.
It’s so hard to choose as there are so many fantastic restaurants in London. It would have to be The Clove Club, Kitchen Table and Frantzén in Stockholm.
Do you have any role models?
Ferran Adrià, he is my favourite chef of all time. He is the most imaginative chef I’ve ever met, and the way he deconstructs food is an art! He is the king of molecular gastronomy, and his creations surprise and enchant his guests.
PLUS: Try serving Gonzalo’s delicious cocktail recipe for a taste of his innovative style.
The Oriental Lady
• 7.5ml Maraschino
• 12.5ml Green Chartreuse
• 35ml Pisco
• 3 x sprigs of fresh thyme
• 3-5 fresh rosemary leaves
Add all ingredients and the herb leaves into a glass and stir over ice for 3 minutes. Strain into a glass and garnish with one sprig of thyme.