Please wait, the site is loading...

Today (Thursday 18th February), the king of Italian cuisine and one of our favourite chefs (we can say that, right?), Theo Randall is reopening the doors to his fantastic restaurant at the InterContinental on Park Lane after a menu change and interiors revamp. We chatted with him about perfect pasta, being mean on MasterChef and how we're being more adventurous with our orders...

What was your vision for the restaurant 10 years ago?

When I was at River Café I thought, I'm not going to move unless something comes up in a really great location; something that's a big deal. Then the site at the InterContinental came up. The idea was to do something different to everything else in Mayfair...all the other restaurants were quite stiff. I wanted to make it a relaxed atmosphere, relaxed service and nothing too formal.

The restaurant has been featured on MasterChef a couple of times - do the producers ever say, 'Theo we need to toughen it up a bit here!'
My management style in the kitchen is to encourage. Obviously you have to be tough sometimes but when I do things like Masterchef I just try to be me. If someone's having a really bad day, I'm not going to scream and shout at them and say 'You're useless'. I'll just put my arm around them and say 'What's wrong?' and try and encourage and get the most out of them.

Theo cooking up a storm in the kitchen!

Do you have a favourite new thing that you're introducing to the menu?

My favourite pasta dish is a zucchini dish that came from a friend's family in Sorrento. You cook white onions really slowly, then add thinly sliced zucchini so it gets a bit of colour, and a bit of basil. Let it all combine and you get this lovely, slightly aniseed-y flavour. Mix together egg yolk, Parmesan and black pepper and add it onto cooked pasta with the zucchini mix and my God, it's amazing.

How have restaurant orders changed in the last decade?

New dietary requirements have made a big difference. Some of the tickets we get into the kitchen are a foot long because they say 'allergy to this, allergy to that' so it's gone a bit bonkers. I think people eat more fish than they used to and are open to things like eel, squid and scallops. In some ways people are eating lighter, too; they don't want to eat huge pieces of meat and I think that's a good thing.

Have you ever tried squid in your tagliatelle?

Where do you source your ingredients?

We get a lot of Italian ingredients from Milan and Verona. We buy as many seasonal vegetables as we can from the UK. Meat-wise we get beef and sweetbreads from our butchers in North Kirby and our butcher from day one, Brian Randalls in Wandsworth, provides amazing Somerset lamb. You have to have a lot of fish suppliers because bad weather can affect how much fish comes in, but I've been buying from a company called South West Co for over 20 years. You can phone at 11pm, they've got the fish in front of them and you can order what you want for the morning.

How has hiring chefs changed over the years?

I always promote within. I will take on a commis chef who is very keen to learn and you teach them from scratch. Over the last year I've had a few chef de parties turn up who have been cooking for six years and they can't even fillet a fish. You don't become a chef overnight, it takes time.

Delicious roasted pork loin wrapped in coppa di parma...

How do you make the perfect ragu?

To get the best flavour we use big pieces of meat like chuck steak. We seal the steak so it gets a nice bit of colour on, then separately fry celery, onion and rosemary until soft. Cook together with tomato passata and loads of red wine for about six hours. At the end we break the meat up with a wooden spoon. We serve it with a very rich egg yolk pappardelle (20 egg yolks per kilo of flour). Bologna is the centre of Parmesan production so there's loads of butter and cream around - if you're making Bolognese add a great big dollop of butter to your ragu, it tastes amazing.

What is the best way of cooking polenta?

Polenta is seasonal, which people don't often realise. The season lasts for six months. You should look for new season polenta or bramata polenta, which is a coarse grain polenta. Really good polenta takes 45 minutes to cook with water and should almost taste like corn on the cob. When it's done it should come away from the sides of the pan like choux pastry. That's when you season and add butter and Parmesan. You can serve it wet with ragu, grill it or deep fry it.

Beautiful walnut orange honey tart

What inspires you?

I love what I do. When you're happy in what you're doing, the inspiration comes quite easily. Ingredients inspire me too - if we get the most amazing porcini mushrooms, or truffles or aubergines I'll be inspired to do something different with them; maybe grilling, maybe frying, maybe making a pasta sauce. There's always something inspiring round the corner.

 

About the author

We value your privacy

We use cookies to help give you the best experience on our site and to allow us and third parties to customise the marketing content you see across websites and social media. For more information see our cookie policy.

Cookie Preference Centre

Learn more about what each cookie category does and choose your settings (toggle right to opt in or left to opt out). Cookie policy


Strictly Necessary

These technologies are needed to enable our websites and apps to run and to keep it secure.

Sainsbury's Magazine

These technologies tell us how customers use our sites and apps and provide information to help us improve the website, apps and your browsing experience.

Cookie name Duration
PHPSESSID Until the browsing session ends
device_view 1 month
recentlyViewedRecipes 1 year
subscription-{popup-version-date}-PopupClosed 12 days

Vimeo

Enables Vimeo videos on the site

Cookie name Duration
_derived_epik 1 year

Constant Commerce

Enables shopping tools for recipe ingredients

Cookie name Duration
cc_a_h 10 years
cc_a_s Until the browsing session ends

DoubleClick

DoubleClick Digital Marketing (DDM) is an integrated ad-technology platform that enables us to more effectively create, manage and grow high-impact digital marketing campaigns.

Cookie name Duration
DSID 10 days
IDE 1 year
RUL 11 months

Performance/Analytics

These technologies tell us how customers use our sites and apps and provide information to help us improve the website, apps and your browsing experience.

Google

Google Analytics tell us how customers use our sites and apps and provide information to help us improve the website, apps and your browsing experience.

Cookie name Duration
__gads 13 months
_ga 28 months
_gat 1 minute
_gid 1 day
1P_JAR 1 month
ANID 10 days
CONSENT 18 years
NID 6 months
__Secure-3PAPISID 2 years
__Secure-3PSID 2 years
__Secure-3PSIDCC 1 year

Marketing/Targeting

These technologies help us decide which products, services and offers may be relevant for you. We use this data to customise the marketing content you see on websites, apps and social media. They also help us understand the performance of our marketing activities. These cookies are set by us or our carefully-selected third parties.

Pinterest

Pinterest conversion tracking gathers conversion insights and builds audiences to target based on actions our visitors have taken on the site.

Cookie name Duration
_pinterest_ct_rt 1 year
_pinterest_ct_ua 1 year
_pin_unauth 1 year

Outbrain

These technologies tell us how customers use our sites and apps and provide information to help us improve the website, apps and your browsing experience.

Cookie name Duration
outbrain_cid_fetch 5 minutes
adrl 5 weeks
apnxs 6 weeks
criteo 2 months
obuid 6 months

Twitter

Twitter conversion tracking enables us to measure our return on ad spend by tracking the actions people take after viewing or engaging with our ads on Twitter.

Cookie name Duration
personalization_id 2 years
muc 2 years
ads_prefs 5 years
auth_token 5 years
dnt 5 years
guest_id 2 years
twid 5 years