Overall ranking: 69
Restaurateurs ranking: 22
Giorgio Locatelli is the chef-proprietor of Locanda Locatelli, the Michelin-star Italian restaurant in London’s Churchill InterContinental hotel. In conjunction with Parallel, a division of contract caterer Aramark, he is also responsible for the Refettorio restaurant at the Crowne Plaza, City of London hotel.
Locatelli was born in 1964 to a family that ran a Michelin-starred restaurant in Corgeno, Italy. He worked in Italy and Switzerland before arriving in the UK in 1986 to spend four years under Anton Edelmann at London’s Savoy hotel.
After a stint in Paris, Locatelli returned to London to be head chef of Olivo for three years, where he served up Italian peasant cooking. He worked as a consultant for the Red Pepper Italian restaurant that opened in 1994 before becoming chef-patron of A-Z Restaurant’s Zafferano in Knightsbridge, which scooped a Michelin star in 1999.
In 1997 and 1998, Locatelli opened the Spighetta and Spiga pizza and pasta restaurants with A-Z. He then acted as a consultant for Park Plaza Restaurant Group’s Cecconi’s restaurant, which opened in early 2001 – the same year Locatelli made an acrimonious exit from A-Z. He soon bounced back with his first independent venture, Locanda Locatelli, which opened in 2002 and gained a Michelin star in 2003. Refettorio opened in the Crowne Plaza near Blackfriars Bridge in early 2004.
What we think
Anton Edelmann once described the flamboyant Locatelli as “probably the best Italian chef in London” and his appraisal is vindicated by the 20 or so awards and accolades Locatelli has collected in the past eight years. He has been involved with eight Italian restaurants in the capital
With Red Pepper, he honed his concept of a mid-spend Italian restaurant and gained experience with the traditional wood burning ovens he was to use at Spighetta and Spiga.
But it was Zafferano (meaning saffron) that gained Locatelli his international reputation and his first Michelin star – not to mention the Best Italian Restaurant award for two years running in the Carlton London Restaurant Awards and the first Restaurateur’s Restaurant of the Year accolade in 1998.
Locanda Locatelli quickly took over as one of the hottest Italian restaurants in town. As well as offering Locatelli’s Michelin-rated modern Italian cuisine – which is characterised by freshness of produce (a lot of it is imported from Italy) and flavour – its large family-friendly tables underscore the Italian love of children and conviviality.
It won the Restaurateur’s Best Italian Restaurant award in 2002 (as well as its Best New Restaurant category), in 2003 (winning the same accolade in the Carlton London Restaurant Awards) and in 2004.
In 2001, Locatelli worked with Fish! founder Tony Allan on his second book and TV series. The pair set up Loco Restaurants to roll out a chain of four or five pizza restaurants but it became the vehicle for Allan to buy back seven of his Fish! restaurants from receivership. Locatelli resigned his directorship in 2002.
Locatelli’s talent has also been acknowledged by his native country – the Accademia Italiana della Cucina awarded him a Diploma di Buona Cucina in 2002 and a Diploma di Cucina Eccellente in 2003.