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Theo Randall: An Italian Renaissance in London

Theo Randall: An Italian Renaissance in London

A sit down with the Britsih chef Theo Randall to discuss his latest Fine Dining Lovers application and why Londoners love Italian food so much

By FDL on

The London restaurant survey Zagat recently announcing the news that people in London like to eat Italian food more than any other. The BBC in England recently spent a day with Massimo Bottura asking him to define exactly what authentic Italian is. Supermarkets across the country now stock traditional extra virgin olive oils, pastas and cured Italian meats. It really does seem that Italian is firmly on the menu in England, especially in the capital.

One chef who knows a thing or two about Italian cuisine is the British born, Italian adopted chef Theo Randall.

Working as a partner at the world famous The River Cafe and recently opening his own Italian restaurant at The Interncontinental Hotel, Theo is one of the leading chefs in London, helping spread traditional and authentic Italian cuisine throughout the capital and recently offered some of his own exclusive recipes for The Fine Dining Lovers' Perfect Host App by S.Pellegrino.

Randall's a chef who's been involved in the London food scene for over twenty years and has some interesting views about how the British attitude towards food,  Italian in particular, has changed.

"The British have so much choice now that I think our palates have become very sophisticated. You go to a supermarket now and people ask, do I want buffalo mozzarella from this place, or this region?...do I want a two or a three-year-old parmesan cheese?"

"I was very inspired when I first started cooking at The River Cafe but Italian food at the time in 1989 was very anglicized - Italians coming to England and trying to please the English palate... Over the past twenty years this has changed dramatically."

Watered down Bolognese is gone in favor of traditional ragù, fresh pasta and vegetables have replaced pre-made sauces - a discerning public now expect and understand authentic Italian food.

The chef hints at some what of a renaissance in the capital, "People are so into food now in London - everyone is just buzzing talking about ingredients,  produce - olive oils, jams, or wines and the interest and questions are brilliant... we are becoming very inquisitive in England."

"In countries like Italy they've grown up with this culture, it becomes part of them and I think in London there's all these new restaurants, new produce shops and this really interests people."

It's this passion for food that's seen London's restaurant scene thriving, with new openings announced on an almost weekly basis and food festivals like Taste of London attracting around 80,000 food loving visitors over just four days - the city is awash with people intent on understanding and appreciating ingredients.

As Theo Randall says, "in London people are very curious to learn about food, people are going to the butcher and buying meat, whole fish in the fishmonger and taking them home to cook."

It's chefs like Theo Randall, Jamie Oliver and Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall that have pushed home cooking and Italian cuisine in the country - all of them working at The River Cafe at some point in their career and all of them singing the virtues of simple, high quality ingredients cooked well and paired simply on the plate.

This, media and a curiosity to learn, has helped drive this new love for ingredients and Italian food. As the Theo Randall puts it: "TV now is full of food and I think that it now excites people. Knowledge in cookbooks, eating out and cooking at home - everyone is cooking at home and realising that they can go to the shop by a bunch of basil, a packet of linguine, some pine nuts and some parmesan and make their own pesto - in a few minutes - it's fast food but tastes delicious.

"This all adds up to giving people confidence to cook more. Italian food is about being inspired by ingredients and this is what's happening throughout London right now."

A selection of Theo Randall's authentic Italian recipes can be found in the Fine Dining Lovers' Perfect Host app by S.Pellegrino, together with some suggestions on where to buy high quality Italian produce in London and some great advice on hosting a dinner party,

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