Theo Randall’s passion for food was born from regular family holidays across Europe, and from a young age, he was destined for a culinary future. His career began as a waiter at London’s acclaimed Chez Max, and today Theo is a regular on national television, but he remains true to his Italian fine dining culinary roots.
He has published three successful recipe books: PASTA (2006), My Simple Italian (2015) and The Italian Deli Cookbook (2021), and his latest book, The Italian Pantry which was released in September 2022.
We caught up with Theo to talk all things Italian food.
How did it all start?
My love of food started from a very young age. My mother was a brilliant cook, artist, forager so her creativity was very much an inspiration to me. I would always help her make bread and lick any cake bowl that was finished with. I loved cooking and would always help to make lunch and dinner, whether it was the salad dressing or picking herbs from our garden.
What is it about Italian food that you love so much?
There are 20 regions of Italy and each offers a different array of recipes, but all have the same focus on producing simple seasonal food that uses ingredients that are locally grown or foraged, this makes for very interesting recipes. This is why I love Italian food; it is so varied and draws inspiration from other countries but always with its own identity.
Tell us about your menu at The InterContinental?
We have a few showcasing Italian fine dining. The regional menu is a 4 course menu – anti pasti, primi, secondi and dolce, celebrating the food and wine from a particular region of Italy. For October we will be in Umbria, great for truffles and big flavours. Here is the menu for October.
-Manzo di Pozzo – cured beef thinly sliced with marinaded Tema artichokes and Pecorino cheese -Strangozzi alla Norcia – hand made pasta with Italian sausage, white wine, cream black truffles
-Faraona alla Narnese – Guinea fowl roasted on crostini, pancetta, sweet wine with delica squash, lentils de casteluccio and mixed braised greens
-Torta di Nocciola al Cioccolato – Chocolate and hazelnut cake with Vin Santo gelato
Our a la carte menu is seasonal and changes through the year. We do have classic dishes that are tweaked throughout the seasons due to their popularity, for instance the Pappadelle al Ragu or the Cappaletti di Vitello are always on the menu.
What new flavour combinations or ingredients have recently caught your attention?
We recently did a menu from Basilicata and had a dish on the menu of ripe black figs, buffalo mozzarella, fresh mint, basil and wild rocket with shavings of ricotta salata. It was a perfect combination, the salty ricotta finished off the rustic dish beautifully.
You are a regular on Saturday Kitchen. What is it like cooking on live TV?
I enjoy cooking on TV as it is a great way to teach a large audience how to cook a dish I am passionate about. If you are well set up and you have done a rehearsal then the cooking live part is much easier making the experience more relaxed.
Any future signature dishes you are working on currently that you can tell us about?
We are always experimenting with new dishes and are in the process of finalising our Lombardia regional menu. One dish we are refining is a slow cooked veal dish using shin, a classic ingredient of the region. Think Osso bucco but a little more delicate.
How important is sustainability in the food you create?
Sustainability is key to all cooking. The Italians have always cooked this way, so it’s very much part of the Italian Kitchen. We source all our ingredients very carefully and only use suppliers I have worked with for many years. I can always ask where produce is from and have a good idea of the sustainability of particular items, especially fish.
What do you like to cook at home?
I have just published a cook book called ‘Italian Pantry’ which is a cook book about 10 store cupboard ingredients that have 10 recipes per ingredient. This is an insight to what I like to cook at home. As you can image, I always have a well-stocked cupboard of dried pasta.
Top 3 favourite restaurants in the UK?
Elystan Street, South Kensington.
If you could award a Michelin star right now to a UK Chef, who would it be to and why?
Well it would be a second star to Nieves Barragan for her brilliant restaurant, Sabor. Her food is exquisite, simply presented, served with real authenticity of flavour and texture of her home, Bilbao. I love this restaurant and look forward to going back soon.
What is next for Theo Randall at The InterContinental?
We will continue are journey through Italy with the regional menu and thrive to keep up our high standards of delicious food and friendly, efficient service.
To discover more, visit: theorandall.com
View this post on Instagram
All imagery courtesy of Theo Randall / InterContinental Hotels.