Living la vida Locatelli

Working at his family’s Michelin-starred restaurant from the age of 14, one could say that Giorgio Locatelli was destined for success from the get-go. Today he is considered one of the UK’s best Italian chefs, having notched up multiple awards (including two thumbs-up from the portly Michelin man himself) for his restaurants Zafferano and Locanda Locatelli. The best part of it all? He’s on his way to South Africa to share his wealth of knowledge with keen foodies at the Cape Town Good Food and Wine Show.

Have you ever been to South Africa? No, I haven’t. It seems like such a wonderful place. I really can’t wait to be there.

It seems you were destined for the restaurant industry, growing up in a family full of chefs. Was there ever a time in your life when you considered being anything other than a chef? No, never.

Apart from Italy, which country’s cuisine has affected the way you cook? I like food from the Far East, but as my cooking is purely Italian, it doesn’t influence the way I cook technically.

Which people have played an integral role in your career? A lot of different chefs during my experiences at The Savoy in London and Restaurant Laurent and La Tour D’Argent in Paris were extremely important to my career. The UK has been hit especially hard by the economic downturn.

What effect has this had on Locanda Locatelli? The only thing that’s happened is that our really long waiting list has gotten a little shorter!

Being at the top of your game all the time must get tiring. How do you remain inspired? The ingredients are my main inspiration. There’s always something different to try and new to learn.

What three ingredients wouldn’t you be able to live without? Olive oil, pasta and tomato.

Your favourite dish to make for yourself on your days off? A chilli-smashed sardine iceberg lettuce sandwich on toasted brown bread.

What has been your best dining experience so far in 2010? Nahm Restaurant in London.

What do you have in store for folks at Cape Town’s Good Food and Wine Show? Dishes like risotto with Castelmagno cheese and barolo; baked sea bass in a herb and salt crust; and chestnut tagliatelle with mixed wild mushrooms, among other things!

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