I first learned about the effort required and the rewards enjoyed by a true food lover as a child. Unlike my peers, who happily spent their holidays buried in sand on the beach or leaping in and out of rock pools, my parents' idea of a good family holiday was quite different. Instead they chose to drive through rural Italy in their Citroën DS and see how much food and wine they could squeeze into the boot before finally driving home.
Looking back, I can see that this was in itself a privilege - how many other people can claim to have experienced freshly pressed olive oil? Or to have seen what places like Venice and Florence were like in the 70's but at the time the only thing that made these trips bearable were the frequent stops at trattorie and panetterie...
I guess it would be fair to say that my parents' enthusiasm for good food and wine didn't so much 'rub off' but rather 'stuck' with me. In my early twenties, after a four year apprenticeship with Max Magarian of Chez Max, I was lucky enough to find myself in the kitchen of a little restaurant which had just opened on a stretch of the river Thames approaching Hammersmith Bridge - The River Café.
Here I was able to put my relationships with small artisan producers to good use. In 1991 I left to spend a year working with the legendary Alice Waters. Upon my return Rose and Ruth made me head chef and invited me to become a partner in the business.
I could have happily stayed at The River Café forever but I always felt that I might look back and wonder if I could ever have done it on my own. So, after seventeen happy years by the river, I decided to have a go on my own. In November 2006 I opened my first restaurant, Theo Randall at the InterContinental.
Since its launch, the restaurant has won numerous awards including Best Italian Restaurant of The Year from the London Restaurant Awards, Best Italian/ Mediterranean over £50 in Harden’s, and the highest ranked Italian on the Sunday Times Food List. Last year my signature Cappelletti di vitello won Best Dish at the Tatler Restaurant Awards.
I am proud to have two successful cookbooks to my name.
My Simple Italian (2015) focusses on balancing top quality ingredients to make perfect flavour combinations.
PASTA, (2006) which is my first book, celebrates some classic dishes that we enjoy in the restaurant.
This year my restaurant is celebrating its 10th year with a new look and more varied menu. We are really excited to have more flexibility and seasonality presented in a space that celebrates the food.
*To purchase a copy of My Simple Italian, please speak to a member of the restaurant team. Please note, postage fees may apply.