Nico Ladenis, London’s former three-Michelin-starred chef and restaurateur, has publicly admitted for the first time that he was fighting prostate cancer when he gave up his stars and retired three years ago.
Ladenis, 68, said his illness was one reason why he asked Michelin to withdraw his restaurant, Chez Nico at Ninety Park Lane, from the guide.
The other was the fact he had become disillusioned with the three-star restaurant scene.
He said: “The climate was changing. People were no longer appreciative of three-star food. The prices were much too high and I was beginning to feel that I preferred to cook simpler food.
“At the same time I was diagnosed with cancer and I thought to myself that it was time to go.”
The diagnosis came in August 1998. The following month Ladenis told the directors of Michelin that he was retiring and he wanted his restaurant to be removed from the book. He did not tell them he was unwell.
Ladenis had six weeks of treatment and retired with his wife Dinah-Jane to Provence, in the South of France, in June 1999.
Ladenis, who considers himself “three-quarters retired” is today 99% well. “The doctors never tell you that you are completely cured,” he added.
Ladenis was speaking during a two-week visit to London, where he is tasting dishes for a restaurant he plans to open in May or June. He has bought the freehold to the former Firebird restaurant in Conduit Street. It will be a 75-seat French brasserie named Au Père Nico.
Ladenis has also signed a 25-year lease on a building in Carmelite Street. It will have a 60-seat restaurant and a bar. It will open later this year but does not have a name yet.
The restaurants will be run by Ladenis’s daughters Natasha Robinson and Isabella Wallace. They, along with a few key staff, run his other two restaurants, Cheznico, formerly the three-starred Chez Nico, and Incognico, in Shaftesbury Avenue.
by Louise Bozec
Source: Caterer & Hotelkeeper magazine, 14-20 March 2002