My life in travel: Theo Randall
'We visit Puglia a lot. The food, the people, the whole place is amazing'
Saturday 11 May 2013
Chef Theo Randall has been working with ASK Italian to launch the restaurant's new spring menu, now available nationwide
First holiday memory?
Seeing the sinking city of Venice. I remember eating spaghetti alle vongole (spaghetti with clams) in a restaurant and loving it. I also have lots of childhood memories of camping in France. My mother would buy lots of food that you couldn't get at home, so the car got fuller and fuller.
Favourite place in the British Isles?
Wiltshire. My father is an architect, so he bought a plot of land there many years ago and designed his dream house overlooking Sutton Mandeville. There are the most amazing walks there.
A family trip to Antigua. We stayed in a house on the west coast with a beautiful view out to sea. We hired a boat and sailed around. It was one of those holidays where, if you're having a bad day, you think: "I wish I was back there."
What have you learnt from your travels?
Be relaxed. If you have a long list of things you want to do – museums and different sites – it becomes a bit obsessive. You end up just ticking a list. Go and have lunch, sit at a café and be in the sun for a bit. Holidays shouldn't be stressful.
Greatest travel luxury?
A suitcase on wheels. We were given this luggage once – very nice but they were shoulder bags. I remember going away with the children for the first time, packing all manner of nappies and bottles, and envying people pulling suitcases.
The Inspector Montalbano series by Andrea Camilleri. The main character is a Sicilian detective and there is always food involved.
Where has seduced you?
Puglia, southern Italy. I first went five years ago and we have been going back ever since. There is a place called Taranto, where the water is like a swimming pool. The combination of the food, the people and the whole place is amazing.
Worst travel experience?
A ferry trip to France when I was younger. The sea was really bad. I remember that smell of petrol and oil made me sick for the whole journey. When we got off, I got car-sick too.
The InterContinental, Hong Kong. It has an amazing infinity pool and the view is incredible. You can sit in the lobby and watch boats go up and down. At night, the place is electric.
Hampstead Heath, early in the morning with my two dogs and my kids. We drive the car to Pond Street and walk through the park to Kenwood. We have a cup of tea at a nice café and then walk back. Even if it's raining, it is one of those walks that is lovely and rewarding.
Best meal abroad?
One that stood out was l'Espérance by the chef Marc Meneau in the French commune of Vézelay. They do North Atlantic turbot steamed in a salt and flour crust. It arrived on a trolley with two very proud waiters. They used scissors to cut into it and this huge piece of fish appeared, served with lobster butter.
Rome. I love the walk from the Spanish Steps down through the city. I find all the little trattorias very inspirational, too. There's an amazing restaurant called Piperno where they do carciofi alla giudia which is basically Jewish-style artichokes, cooked incredibly slowly in olive oil for an hour until really soft. Absolutely delicious.
Puglia this summer. We rent a house in Ostuni, a beautiful place known as the "White City". The surrounding area is quite rural with lots of vineyards. In the piazzas at night, everyone is out and you see children running around until late. It is an incredibly peaceful place.
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