Page 25 - West Dorset Living Dec:Jan 2019
P. 25

  So when did you start cooking?
From a very early age. So a bit of my background - I grew up in a very foodie family, my mother is an artist and my father an architect. My Mother is a brilliant cook, so we grew up with really good food. We used to go on lovely holidays and to special restaurants
and as a child I always loved going to them. Food was just part of the fabric of life. I was the kid that went to school with homemade bread and gorgonzola sandwiches, when everyone else had Mother’s Pride and ham and cheese.
I always loved eating and it was very adventurous. Mother would bake three times a week, bread and cakes and I would always help her, even if it was just licking the bowl!
You were there watching what she was doing and learning along the way.
Yes, and she was very inspirational. She taught art and was a very good teacher. She has an amazing number of cookbooks and I just used to devour them. In particular she used to cook Elizabeth David’s Italian dishes.
Was that your entry into loving Italian food?
I guess so. As an artist Mother loved everything Italian. She used to cook pasta and create dishes that many families didn’t eat at that time. When we went
on holiday to France or Italy, we used to come back with a car load - we had our knees up to our chins as there were so many bottles of olive oil and all manner of ingredients that you couldn’t then get in this country - including fabulous wines.
We also had a trailer we were loaded to the gunwales. The thing is that we live in a world where we can now get anything at any time. But then everything then was much more seasonal. I was lucky enough to travel to experience different foods. I was able to appreciate many things at a young age.
You are discussing seasonality - so do you love any particularly foods at the moment?
At Theo Randall at the InterContinental our menus are totally seasonal. We find the ingredients and then write the menus. We write the menu every day and it will change according to what is seasonally available. Now it is the time of year for fresh porcini so we also have girolle mushrooms, so we do a risotto with the porcini and calves liver, tagliatelle with the girolles. Each season offers lots of different things.
My husband absolutely loveS Italian tomatoes. He has got a thing about them.
Have you tried datterini? He must try them - they are delicious little plum
tomatoes from Sicily. Close your eyes and they are like eating a grape, they are that sweet.
How did your career start?
I started working in a French bistro and
a friend asked me if I wanted to be a kitchen porter on a Thursday night and as I was 15 at the time, and as I needed a little bit more pocket money I went along. I went into the kitchen and thought that this is the place I want to be. I loved it, the whole atmosphere. It was a French restaurant with a Spanish chef, who took a liking too me and was always feeding different dishes he was making, and as a result I really enjoyed it.
From there I want onto a restaurant
on my 18th birthday called Chez Max.
I spoke with Max Magarian, who was Chef Patron, and I explained that I really wanted to cook. He told me that he didn’t have any jobs in the kitchen but that I could work as a waiter, on Friday and Saturday nights. The most antisocial nights of the week. I wanted to learn,
so I decided to do it. I think that I was probably the world’s worst waiter! I still loved being in the restaurant. I had good luck that the girl who was working with him decided to leave. He then said to me, ‘there is a position for you, do you want it?’ I then thought right place, right time.
I have to say it was gruelling. It was 5 days a week from 8 to midnight. Having said that it was the most amazing learning experience. I did three and a half years there, and then went to the River Café. I was very happy there and worked with the legendary Ruth Rogers and Rose Gray. Again, it was the right place at the right time. At that time nowhere
"Food was just part of the fabric of life. I was the kid that went to school with homemade bread and gorgonzola sandwiches"
With a face you will recognise from Saturday Kitchen and an illustrious career at the helm of one of the World's
most famous restaurants, Theo Randall has carved an amazing career from what he would describe as
'happy chances' and coincidences. Sally Thomson caught up with him to discuss his love of Italian food and his festive partnership with Gin Mare...

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