My Life In Food: Giorgio Locatelli

 

Giorgio Locatelli is the chef-patron of the Michelin-starred Locanda Locatelli in London's Mayfair. His latest cookbook is Made in Sicily (Harper Collins, £30)

What are your most and least used pieces of kitchen kit?

My knives are never far from me. I'm in love with them, really. I buy all Japanese. They make by far the best in the world. I have one guy who I visit whenever I'm in Tokyo. I buy so many whenever I go there. What I never use is a microwave. They are crap. A really terrible way of cooking things.

If you had only £10 to spend on food, where would you spend it and on what?

I'd go to a market. Perhaps Borough Market. I'd try and pick up some pheasant. I'd pan fry the breasts and serve them with some glazed carrots. The liver I'd serve on crostini. And the rest of the bird I'd use to make ravioli. I'd like to use everything if it was my last £10 in the world.

What do you eat for comfort?

I don't really have one comfort food. I have lots of little desires, my tiny comforts. Marshmallows, for instance. We started making them five or six weeks ago in the restaurant. If you were to test my blood you'd see I've been eating them every day, I'm full of sugar. I'm an addict.

If you could eat only bread or potatoes for the rest of your life, which would you choose?

I would choose bread. I would happily live off large Italian loaves for ever. We Italians love bread more than potatoes. My father is well known for putting bread rolls in his pockets whenever he goes to a Chinese restaurant. But I do still like potatoes. Spuntas especially, as I use them for my gnocchi. King Edwards are also very good – they are perfect for salads.

What's your desert island recipe?

Spaghetti with tomato sauce. It is a simple dish, but the flavour is to die for. Spaghetti is very difficult to make as you have to dry the dough at exactly the right temperature for the correct amount of time. So I buy mine from Verrigni. Before I prepared the pasta, I'd cook some tomatoes in a little olive oil on a low heat for about an hour. I'd use good quality tomatoes and at the very end would add some salt and basil. It makes a really good sauce. I'd spoon it onto the cooked pasta. Delicious.

What's your favourite cookbook?

Pellegrino Artusi's The Science of Cooking and the Art of Eating Well is a fantastic book. It was really the first Italian cookbook. Before 1891, when it was published, there weren't any "Italian" cookbooks per se. Artusi brought it all together into a single cuisine. I give it as a present to the chefs who come to work for me in my kitchens.

Who taught you to cook?

So many people. Some taught me organisation, some how to run a business, others how to run a kitchen. My grandmother inspired me, though. She used to cook lunch on Tuesday afternoons for my extended family in the restaurant. It was always beautiful – so fresh, never anything but totally delicious.

What advice would you give to aspiring chefs?

Keep it simple and nice and fresh. And avoid showing off at all costs – that isn't what it's all about. Cooking is about sincerity and balance and, most of all, about wanting to give something to someone else.

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