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Theo Randall

Theo Randall

Celebrated Chef Randall (former head partner the River Café) prepares rustic Italian fare with the finest seasonal ingredients in one of London’s best Italian restaurants; Theo Randall at the InterContinental. 

Posted by in Insider Guide to London

 Theo Randall Dishes

What inspires award-winning Chef Theo Randall in the kitchen? Alongside his passion for ingredients, travel and wine, music helps Theo get his mojo working. We asked Theo about his top tunes to cook to and the reason behind each song…

Spaghetti alle Vongole
When the clams pop open, Rossini’s The Barber of Seville is the perfect accompaniment. The piece adds drama, life and excitement and makes cooking even more enjoyable. As Figaro, the barber himself, arrives on the scene and launches into the classic Largo Al Factotum, it’s as if the clams themselves are calling his name.

Fish Stew
Fish stew is a labour of love and Places & Spaces by Donald Byrd is a great song for sitting back, relaxing with a glass of wine and watching the stew cook. And if the stew needs longer cooking time, just rewind and start the track all over again – and pour another glass! 

Amalfi Lemon Tart 
Hang Up Your Hang Ups by funk and jazz legend Herbie Hancock is the perfect match for my signature dessert. Hancock’s legendary synthesizer and horns combination is as zesty as that delicious Amalfi lemon. Both help brighten my day so it makes perfect sense that they would go together.

Risotto
Smooth, a bit luxurious and to be enjoyed with a good bottle of wine, cooking Risotto means that it’s time for the so called Walrus of Love, Barry White and his classic It’s Ecstasy When You Lay Down Next To Me. I don’t think I need to go into too much detail on this one!

Ravioli di Erbette
Finally, no top tune list should be complete without a Stevie Wonder track. Sir Duke and Ravioli di Erbette are a great combination as both are lively, fun, and exciting, and the welcome end to a long day.

Get more music and food pairing advice from Theo by joining him on Twitter (@theorandall) and see Theo in action in his weekly video recipe series for the Huffington Post. Be sure to catch Theo at this year's Taste of London Winter too, held from 20th - 23rd November. 

 

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Perfect Picnic Spots Park

As one of the greenest cities in the world, the capital’s picnic options are bountiful, so we asked award-winning Chef Theo Randall to help navigate the best spots…

Hyde Park, The Serpentine
On the doorstep of the hotel, Hyde Park is the ideal place to sit back and enjoy the summer weather. Take your hamper and set up by the Serpentine Lake, where you can hire a deckchair or do it the old fashion way and get a picnic rug. Also, from May to September the Serpentine Lido is open if you fancy a quick dip.

Regent’s Park, Primrose Hill
Arguably Primrose Hill offers the best view of London, and also overlooks London Zoo; so the kids will be happy. Open all day, it’s easy to see why it’s such a firm favourite on hot summer days.

Alexandra Park
Alexandra Park is a great place for a Sunday afternoon picnic. You can pack your hamper with fresh produce from the Alexandra
Palace Farmers’ Market and kids are kept occupied by watching the waterfowl and deer.

Kyoto Gardens, Holland Park
Kyoto Gardens in Holland Park is truly a hidden gem. The serene waterfall will make it hard to believe the pavements of Kensington are only minutes away. The garden was created in 1991 (and refurbished in 2001) by a team of Japanese gardeners
from Kyoto. Well worth a visit! 

Bushy Park 
Bushy Park is the second largest of London’s Royal Parks and is just north of Hampton Court Palace. If you’re looking for something a little interactive, the park offers fishing, model boating ponds and horse rides. Keep your eyes peeled for its most famous inhabitants; Red and Fallow deer.

 

 

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Panzano - Theo Randall

Located between Florence and Siena, Panzano is a small town with a large reputation for gastronomy. Mark Jones, Executive Editor of BA High Life, joined chef Theo Randall on a food adventure to find out where he gets his inspiration for his award-winning restaurant at the InterContinental.

It is a bright midsummer morning in the heart of Tuscany. In Panzano, a small hilltop village halfway between Florence and Siena, life proceeds at a slow pace. This is Chiantishire at its most shire-like. The bakery and café are doing steady business. A couple of older citizens sit on a bench and discuss life. There’s not much traffic other than the occasional farmer’s van or a visibly lost hire car. 

Panzano has a higher, newer part and an older, lower one. They are divided by a cobbled road and surrounded by gentle, sloping hills of oak, cypress and vines. Red-roofed villas and farmhouses dot the hillsides. If you were a Renaissance painter seeking a pastoral backdrop for your latest Medici commission, you wouldn’t go far wrong here – even if it is 500 years since the Medicis were around. 

But in the distance there is a strange sound that your Renaissance painter – or anyone not familiar with the village – would find distinctly at odds with these tranquil, timeless surroundings. It’s a pounding, insistent kind of noise. Theo, Giovanni and I walk up the hill from the higher part of the village. The fuzzy cacophony begins to separate into its constituent parts: thumping drums, crunching guitar and caterwauling vocals. 

Here, in the land of cantatas and madrigals, someone is playing the Aussie rockers AC/DC at full blast. There’s obviously some kind of party going on. People, some of them with wine glasses in hand, are spilling onto the pavement. Inside, the place is packed with people laughing, drinking, tucking into various titbits being handed around by the staff.

It’s really not like any other butcher’s shop I’ve ever been to. Nor does the butcher act like any other butcher I’ve encountered. Seeing Theo, he strides across the floor, gives him a bear hug and lifts him about three feet into the air. Not quite the behaviour distinguished chefs are accustomed to, perhaps, but this is Dario and when Dario is around polite handshakes and English reserve don’t really work. Theo has been coming to see Dario for years. Any chef who, like him, has an international reputation for cooking top-notch Italian food, comes to see Dario Cecchini whenever they can. Alice Waters, Wolfgang Puck, Mario Batali – they all know Dario: his shop is a place of pilgrimage for people who know and care about meat.

Dario
Dario Cecchini

Dario looks a bit like Jack Nicholson’s jovial Italian cousin. He has arched, decidedly demonic eyebrows, a large hooked nose and a huge, burly frame. Around the shops there are posters of Dario in his younger days when he was leading the campaign against the ban on serving beef on the bone, a ban that stopped him serving his beloved Florentine steaks. The photographer made Dario look like an especially grumpy hitman. It’s an undoubtedly effective shot – Dario became something of a celebrity in the United States – but it’s wholly untrue to the character of the man. You might think a butcher’s shop is a place of dead things; and you wouldn’t be wrong. Yet Dario’s, paradoxically is a place where life is celebrated. He celebrates the life of the animal and treats them with the utmost love and care in the fields and on the chopping board. Outside, under the vines and on long tables, we eat course after course of his succulent beef. There are glasses of Giovanni’s majestic Chianti Classico reds. And there’s time to talk about Panzano.

If you know Tuscany a little you might head for Siena and San Gimignano. If you know Tuscany a little better, you might seek out less touristy Greve with its medieval centre and wonderful markets. But if, like Theo Randall, you are a real Tuscany insider you go to Panzano. 

It’s not all about Dario: this is a food lover’s idyll. The best guide you can have is Giovanni Manetti of the Fontodi winery. If Dario is a Tuscan Jack Nicholson, Giovanni is an Italian Cary Grant: tanned, beautifully dressed, dryly humorous. Whether he is talking to an Albanian seasonal worker in the vineyards or a holidaying tech millionaire in one of his villas, he is unfailingly courteous. Generations of his family are buried in the churchyard on the hill. But in spite of his courteous, conservative air, Giovanni is something of a radical hereabouts.  

Before I find out why, Giovanni drives us around his 80-hectare estate. Let Theo Randall introduce the place: “Fontodi is very special place,” he says. “When you drive up the steep path to its entrance you are taken aback at its sheer beauty but also its simplicity.

“The views over its magnificent vineyards in the Conca D’Ora are inspiring, particularly in summer when the scent of lavender and rosemary is so strong. Giovanni Manetti has made Fontodi one of the great – if not the greatest – of the Chianti Classico estates. When you taste the ‘normale’ it really is a great expression of what Fontodi is all about – simple, elegant and full of character”.

The Conca d’Oro – the Golden Shell – really is a kind of heaven for winegrowers and cheesemakers, as well as butchers, English chefs and AC/ DC fans. It is sculpted into the hills 450 metres up. The south facing slopes bask during the day then cool at night. That makes, says Giovanni, for perfect ripening conditions for his vines – mainly Sangiovese, the classic constituent of Chianti Classico, though he is introducing alternative varieties like Pinot Nero and Syrah. So what’s radical here in this simple rustic landscape? It’s this. In 1990, Giovanni began to experiment with organic methods. Now that’s all he does. But this isn’t only about the wine. His vines are interspersed with barley. The barley feeds his herd of 35 Chianina cows. Their manure feeds the vines, their milk makes the local cheese and of course their meat ends up in Dario’s big, capable hands.

This part of Italy is one of the most intensively cultivated parts of Europe. For Giovanni, it’s just a case of outing the clock back 60 years to a time when the land and the people were self-sufficient and shared their expertise and produce. In so doing, Giovanni and his fellow producers have done more than put this pretty but seemingly insignificant village on the map. 

Theo Randall Panzano
Theo Randall

“Anyone who knows about Tuscan wine and food,” says Theo Randall, “sees it as an epicentre.” Early evening in the epicentre of the epicentre, Dario is cranking up the volume and sharpening the knives. The coals in Dario’s inferno are white hot and Highway to Hell blasts out of the speakers. Here in foodie heaven it’s going to be a long and hellishly good night.

Written by Mark Jones, BA High Life

For more information on Theo Randall and his restaurant, visit theorandall.com

 

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Theo Randall - Veal Cappelletti Recipe
This week, Theo was awarded 'Best Dish' at the 2014 Tatler Restaurant Awards for his Veal Cappelletti. Try it for yourself using his simple recipe from his first cookbook, PASTA.

Theo says 'Cappelletti are a slightly larger version of tortellini. This dish has been on the menu in the restaurant from day one, as we always serve veal chops and we use the flank of the loin to make this pasta. The more you prove the pasta dough by passing it through the machine, the finer you can roll it, making a more delicate dish'. 

300g veal flank, trimmed of excess fat and cut into 3 equal pieces
1 tbs olive oil
100g pancetta, chopped
1 celery stick, finely chopped
2 carrots, finely chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
a glass of white wine
100g Parmesan cheese, freshly grated, plus extra to serve
1/2 quantity of Pasta dough (see Theo's pasta recipe)
75g unsalted butter
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Season the veal with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a casserole dish, add the seasoned veal and cook until golden. Remove from the pan, add the pancetta, celery, carrots and onion and cook for 10 minutes or until the pancetta is golden too. Return the veal to the pan, add the white wine, cover with foil or a tight-fitting lid and transfer to an oven preheated to 160C/Gas Mark 3. Cook for 1.5 hours or until the veal is very tender. Remove the veal and vegetables from the pan and chop very finely by hand. Season to taste, then add the Parmesan and enough of the cooking juices to give a moist but not wet mixture. 

Roll out the pasta dough as thinly as your pasta machine will let you. Cut out 8cm squares and place a teaspoonful of the mixture on each one. Brush the pasta edges with water, then fold in half so you have a triangle. Bring the 2 opposite points of the triangle together and squeeze tight. Repeat this process until you have used up all the filling. The Cappelletti can be cooked straight away or kept in the fridge on a floured tray for up to 2 days. 

Add the Cappelletti to a large pan of boiling salted water and cook for 3-5 minutes, until al dente. Meanwhile, soften the butter in a large frying pan, but don't let it melt completely. Drain the pasta and toss with the butter. Serve with Parmesan and black pepper.

For more information on Theo Randall at the InterContinental, visit theorandall.com

p theo randall 400x600

Image courtesy of Tatler.
Theo collecting his award for Best Dish at the Tatler Restaurant Awards 2014. 


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Theo Randall Zucchini Fritti

Have you heard, it's National Chip Week this week? If you've visited Theo Randall at the InterContinental recently, you may have tried his Zucchini Fritti; our Italian spin on chips!

To make these delicious alternatives, simply follow this simple recipe (serves 4 people)

12 x zucchini
300g tipo 00 flour
4tbs olive oil
250ml warm water
1 egg white
2 litres of sunflower oil

1. Slice the zucchini in half and then into finger size battens
2. Mix flour and oil in a bowl together with warm water until smooth consistency like double cream
3. Whisk egg whites to soft peaks then carefully fold into the batter
4. Dip each zucchini into batter then deep fry in the sunflower oil until crisp and light brown in colour

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HuffPostTheo

As part of my weekly '
Recipe for the Week' series for the Huffington Post, I share how to create a traditional Minestrone Soup with Cannellini Beans; the perfect winter warmer.

Watch the full video recipe here. Be sure to post your photos of your  finished creations on my Facebook page for your chance to win dinner for two at Theo Randall at the InterContinental

Happy cooking!

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