Page 26 - West Dorset Living Dec:Jan 2019
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in London was doing that type of food. It was Italian food that I just loved. The River Café just grew and grew.
I then went to Chez Panisse in California, with Alice Waters, where I gained more experience. When I was there Ruthy called me up and asked if I would come back and that they would make me Head Chef and partner at the River Café. It was a great highlight of my career. The River Café evolved with a Michelin star and became more and more successful. It was an amazing time working there,
I loved every minute of it. I discovered myself. It was a fantastic platform to be on and it was very difficult to leave. It was such a wonderful place.
Well, may I ask why did you leave?
I got to the point of my life when I thought this isn’t my restaurant. I felt that it was about time that I did something for myself. I needed to prove to myself that
I could do something on my own. I was looking at various sites thinking that I am not going to leave unless something fantastic comes up. The opportunity
of the InterContinental came up and I remember meeting the General Manager who told me that he would like me to open up a restaurant in their hotel. The space can be yours and you can design it. I though wow, this is amazing - what an opportunity. To open on Park Lane with your name above the door, it doesn’t get much better than that. So I took that and we opened in 2006 and in 2007 we won 'Italian Restaurant of the Year', which
was a superb accolade. The restaurant has been very busy ever since. The main thing is consistency and keeping your guests happy.
Three years ago I opened a restaurant in Bangkok. Then in March this year we opened in Hong Kong, again with
InterContinental. Then we also have a restaurant in Kensington. So I guess that there have been lots of achievements and very busy times. Lots of research goes into every restaurant - there’s no point in doing things unless you do them properly. You can open up a restaurant and 6 months later it could close.
So what got you into working with gin mare?
One of my favourite things and a friend of mine Rocco Tanzarella who is from Pugila is a fantastic baker. So were are now working on creating the perfect panettone. It is one of the best gins. Some gins I find quite overpowering. I think that too many gins use too much botanical ingredients. This one though is quite fresh. It’s got that saltiness from the olives, along with orange and rosemary. It is really quite herbaceous. I then set about trying to get the flavour into the panettone. You have to be quite careful with alcohol and yeast as if you put them together it can kill the yeast. The first few were a bit like frisbees - they could have probably knocked you out!
When it has all been made, we will be serving it on our menu with a Crème Anglaise using some of the gin as a marinade.
So what does the Randall household have planned for the Festive season?
It’s always a bit mad as the restaurant
is so busy. We tend to have duck - I am
not against turkey as there are some
very good ones around, but I do love roasted duck, which we do with lots of lovely vegetables, such as Jerusalem artichokes, carrots and all that stuff. And I always love getting a side of wild smoked salmon, which becomes even more horrifically expensive each year. But wild smoked salmon, there is nothing like it.
What do you serve that with?
Some fantastic organic bread, unsalted butter and then I add a huge slice of the salmon with a squeeze of lemon and a sprinkle of black pepper and that is to me one of the most delicious things of things in the world. It’s just so simple.
Plus we will definitely have a panettone, which will probably be turned into a ‘bread and butter pudding’ if there are any leftovers.
Are you going to have Christmas day off?
Well, funnily enough we’re open on Christmas Day. We are in Mayfair and it is amazing how many people want to go out on Christmas Day. Last year we were open and we were absolutely mobbed. So I’ll have lunch at home and then go into the restaurant for a few hours. It is a very busy time of year.
You definitely are a busy man! Do you make time to have holidays as you have to work when everyone else is enjoying special days including Christmas.
Yes, I do take 3 good holidays a year. You can’t what I do without taking a decent break, otherwise you would just run yourself into the ground. I always
go away with my wife in January. We go away for a about 10 days. We’re off to Sri Lanka and I'm looking forward to it - not just the break because I love finding out about different food cultures.
After a great catch up, we let Theo get back to his busy restaurant. The 500g ginettone is now being sold at Harvey Nichols priced at £22 in a limited edition of just 500. Randall will also be serving the Italian festive sweet bread on his menu throughout December, paired with a Gin Mare cocktail.
Theo Randall at the InterContinental One Hamilton Place,
Park Lane
020 7318 8747
"It was an amazing time working at the River Café, I loved every minute of it. I discovered myself. It was a fantastic platform to be on and it was very difficult to leave. It was such a wonderful place."

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