Favourite Tables

Tag: Italian Italian


At the Chef’s Table with Stefano Turconi of Franco’s

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Stefano joined Franco’s as a senior chef de partie two years after the restaurant’s initial re-design in 2005.  After successfully working in all the sections of the kitchen, he was soon promoted to the position of senior sous chef.  Two years later when the previous head chef resigned, it was an easy decision to promote Stefano to Head Chef Stefano continues to inspire and delight with new dishes on a daily basis.  Although from the north of Italy, Stefano has a passion for many of the ingredients from central and southern regions.  With Stefano’s thoughtful guidance, Franco’s continues to focus on ensuring the consistency and quality of all the products we serve.



Question: What would be your last dish (to eat) “the death row question”

Stefano: Pizza with spicy Calabrian sausage

Calabrian sausage pizza

Calabrian sausage pizza

Question: Which restaurant would you like to go to? (that you haven’t had the opportunity to visit yet)

Stefano: I would love to try Osteria Francescana – Massimo Bottura’s 3 Michelin Star restaurant in Modena, voted best world restaurant 2016/18

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Question: How important is a Michelin star? a chef in France, who has 3 Michelin stars, recently asked that they are removed because of the pressure – your thoughts

Stefano: Michelin star it is the very top of the game, but not the most important thing in hospitality, you can have a successful restaurant even without it.


Question: What’s the most overused word on restaurant menus’ today

Stefano: These days you can always see in most menu the word’s healthy and light



Question: If you received a call from Buckingham Palace asking you to create a Dinner Menu with dishes or ingredients from your home region in Italy what would you feature?

Stefano: If I needed to choose ingredients or dishes from Lombardy, It would have to be some risotto some gorgonzola cheese and a pudding made of panettone.

Risotto with Gorgonzola

Risotto with Gorgonzola

Classic Panettone

Classic Panettone

Question: What is your favourite dish on the current Franco’s menu/s in which you use foraged ingredients or produce from your most local supplier?

Stefano: Cornish hake with fennel black olives and saffron



Question: If for one night you could be invited to cook alongside any Chef past or present who would that be and why?

Stefano: Definitely Nico Ladenis OR Marco Pierre White two of the best chefs ever

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My Favourite Tables– Two restaurants I have visited and why?


Restaurant (1): Locanda Locatelli: simply the best and most original Italian restaurant in London

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Restaurant (2): Chez Bruce: a very interesting style of food, using various worldwide ingredients

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What is FirePod

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On our recent visit to the Taste Of London held at Tobacco Docks in East London we came across an innovative product that was conceived high in the Italian Alps. The Firepod is a gas-powered stone-baked pizza oven. It’s portable, easy to clean, and makes perfect pizzas in minutes. But this magical piece of kit is much more than that!  If you’re not in the mood for pizza, simply replace the stone with a griddle for cooking sausages, pancakes and the like. You can even use it to boil a kettle for a cup of tea. How versatile is that? Coming very soon is a Lava Stone which can be used in situ, or heated up and taken to your table for cooking on.

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The evening of our visit it was very cold in London. However, the guys on the FirePod stand were very enthusiastic about these colourful little ovens. We did suggest that they may think about having a couple running to warm the cold night air…and give away a few “perfect pizzas”


‘Anyone for pizza?’ is a question that’s rarely answered with a no, but, more often than not, we’re presented with a disappointing, doughy wedge. It doesn’t have to be this way – just take it from David Coward and Tim Henderson, Firepod creators and pizza lovers.  Ski instructing in the Italian Alps, David noticed how often colleagues and customers would skip a four-star fine dining in local restaurants and head out instead for a pizza. Why was that? Why are those pizzas so irresistible?  He made it his mission to find out.

He discovered three things: Firstly, of course a great pizza needs great ingredients. Secondly authentic pizzas get their uniqueness from the use a real stone oven base, and finally each pizza must be baked in roaring hot temperatures. With that information at their fingertips, David and Tim teamed up with an award-winning Surrey based product design company. After two of years of designing, testing, modifying and perfecting, The Firepod emerged. Having a porous stone base FirePod absorbs moisture giving you that sought-after crispy crust. As for temperature, the innovative design can achieve the needed 600°F – 650°F (not hotter as is often believed, the dough needs to time to rise in the oven) for perfect pizzas whereas a regular household oven reaches only around 400°F.

Lady FT is hankering for one – so it won’t be long before it’s in FT Towers…….

If like us you are captivated by this neat product and you want to assist FirePod get off the ground, why not help them with their Kickstarter program. The team are ready to go and looking to start shipping early 2017. The funds from Kickstarter will help accelerate matters.

You can find out more here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/18616555/the-firepod


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Autumn/Winter Newsletter for Restaurants

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Click Here for the latest Favourite Tables Newsletter

  1. The Roster of Great Restaurants Continues to Grow

  2. Now in their third year on Favourite Tables

  3. Chef’s Table a very popular Read

  4. Some great restaurants and gastropubs are “not on the high street”

  5. #FTbadboys a fun Twitter Photo Competition

  6. Coming soon FTbadboy Burgers and Sausage Rolls


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Favourite Tables at the Italian Embassy…again!!

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Imagine our excitement at being invited to the Italian Embassy again ( Chefs Table with Danilo)

The invitation said:  screen-shot-2016-11-14-at-16-58-11

The occasion:  MasterChef The Professionals 2015 finalist and head chef at the Italian Embassy in London Danilo Cortellini would be launching his new cook book




‘4 Grosvenor Square’, the first cook book from Danilo Cortellini is a celebration of his time at the Italian Embassy in London, featuring recipes that reflect the day-to-day life at the Embassy; from business lunches to grand gala dinners and family meals to drinks receptions.

The reception was attended by world famous chefs, television celebrities, food writers and critics who all welcomed the fresh approach Danilo has applied to his book. Chef’s family and friends where also on hand to lend support.


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The hardback book contains authentic Italian dishes using some of the finest produce available. Featured dishes include some of the Ambassadors personal favourites; multi-coloured burrata tortellini with Sicilian red prawns in a smoked artichoke broth; Veal Cheek “pizzaiola”, and a Pumpkin panna cotta with apples and mosto cotto.

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You can read about Danilo’s culinary career in his “Chef’s Table Interview

The book is divided sections that reflect the running of the embassy based on style of occasion instead. This provides an insight on how Danilo plans his menus at the Italian Embassy, and how certain recipes are perfect for particular events. If you are looking to impress someone at home, each dish is applicable to home cooking and home kitchens. Nothing is regimented in this book, and Danilo encourages you to experiment and interpret dishes and elements of recipes as you like.

Danilo says: “I never underestimate the comforting side of food and cooking is truly an act of care and love. He is a great believer in using quality produces and also an advocate of not wasting food. A section of his book is dedicated to supporting the food charity Food Cycle (@foodcycle) and the work they do supporting people at risk of food poverty and social isolation.


Despite no Ferrero Rocher.. the evening was a great success and we wish Danilo every success with his book “4 Grosvenor Square” – the address of the Embassy if you were wondering.

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4 Grosvenor Square is published in English and Italian and available for pre-order from Amazon now with general released on 30th November from Waterstones and all good book shops. RRP: £25.00.



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Favourite Tables meets Antonio “Lello” Favuzzi

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True to the Italian tradition, Antonio Favuzzi (known as ‘Lello’) learnt to cook in his parents’ kitchen. Preparing and creating food for the whole family was an important part of everyday life, he would regularly help his grandmother make fresh, home-made focaccia, pasta and more.

Lello was born in Sassari, Sardinia and grew up there with his Sicilian mother and Puglian father. He first realised he wanted to be a chef when a catering college approached his school looking for recruits and he signed up, after which he worked for two seasons at the five-star hotel, Cervo in Sardinia.

His next position was at La Gritta restaurant in Palau, Italy,


following which he and a small team of fellow chefs and friends launched Santini restaurant in Milan.

His London culinary journey began in 2003 when he began working as a Sous Chef at restauranteur Alan Yau’s Anda in Marylebone. Following this he worked at Franco’s on Jermyn Street, which won rave reviews.


Lello then moved to The Wolseley before joining  the team as Sous Chef at former Corbin & King restaurant, St Alban. In 2008 he was part of the opening team at L’Anima as Sous Chef.

In January 2014 he became Head Chef.


Almond & Raspberry tart with liquorice crumble and yoghurt ice cream


Prawn Linguini


Beef Tagliata


Beetroot Tortelli

L’Anima means ‘soul’ in Italian, and the food that Lello and his team produce is created with this passion in mind. The menu has influences of Moorish cuisine, with a focus on Southern, authentic dishes such as Sardinian Fregola and Seafood Malloreddus – his parents’ Sicilian and Puglian roots a notable influence in his cooking.

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Crab Salad


Pigs Cheek

Lello has recently become an ambassador for the well know Italian beer brand Menabrea, who, alongside L’Anima holds a shared value – namely a commitment toScreen Shot 2016-01-19 at 17.58.50 bringing genuinely artisan Italian food and drink to the UK.

Before asking Lello about his favourite tables, we touch on his plans for 2016 and the future. The partnership with Menabrea will see a number of events taking place including some menu pairing and regional functions. Lello also hinted that we may be seeing him and L’Anima restaurant on our TV screens sometime later this year.

So Lello, now to your favourite tables, where do you like to dine out when you have the chance, and you are allowed two..

Firstly I love a little Spainish Tapas restaurant, José Tapas Bar . It was the first solo venture by Jose Pizarro: a tapas and sherry bar on Bermondsey Street in London. It’s small and cosy and just like being in Barcelona with a changing daily menu depends on what looks good at the market on the day. A mix of new dishes as well as some old favourites paired with wines and sherries that you don’t see anywhere else.

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I also, as often as I can, dine at Hakasan just off Tottenham Court Road, London. Chinese food at a Michelin star standard is just incredible and I have even taken the Black Cod and put my take on that on the L’Anima menu.

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Chef’s Table visits the Italian Embassy

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Passport in hand, we entered the Italian Embassy in Grosvenor Square London. Moments later, after being shown the main dining room, the wine cellar (the WW2 Air Raid shelter) and the kitchen, we find ourselves, espresso in hand, sitting with Chef Danilo Cortellini.

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If Danilo looks familiar you may recognise him from the recent BBC MasterChef programme where he made it through to finals week, but more of that later.


Danilo grew up in a small region of central Italy near the village of Civitella del Tronto, a town and comune in the Province of Teramo, within the Abruzzo region of central Italy. It is located in the Gran Sasso e Monti della Laga National Park. He paints an idyllic picture of living between the mountains and the coast where his family’s property had a few Chestnut Trees. He attended a local school and during the holidays worked in coastal restaurants and hotels. Cooking was a large part of family life and Danilo has fond memories of the fruit and vegetables grown on the family’s land being used in all the dishes prepared. After finishing an intensive course at a regional catering college he travelled to Verona to work in a restaurant then called The Three Crowns owned by the famous pasta maker Giovanni Rana  situated on one of the main squares in Verona.


The glass front to the restaurant kitchen became a tourist attraction with international visitors standing by the windows to watch the young Danilo making pasta.

Looking to increase his knowledge, Danilo moved to Imola and joined the kitchen at the 2 Star San Domenico restaurant.  It’s impressive wine cellar gave him the chance to learn more about local Italian wines and some of the best from around the world.

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After just a few months he was given the opportunity to be Chef de Partie of this two Michelin star kitchen where he remained for the next two years. He feels that during his time at San Domenico he was treated as part on the “family” in the kitchen and this has stayed with him.

Danilo says he found it hard to move on from San Domenico however he wanted to expand his knowledge further so moved to another 2 Star restaurant  Perbellini, this time, wishing to hone his pastry skills making everything from Panettone to very refined pastries for the dining room.

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In 2010, Danilo along with his girlfriend, made the move to London both joining the team at a small Italian restaurant near Green Park, London (part of the Dolada group) where he took the role of Sous Chef. After one year having taken some of the “hard knocks” London can deliver, he was determined to get to grips with the London restaurant industry and to find out “what i need to do” to succeed. He moved to the Allan Ducasse restaurant at The Dorchester

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Whilst only a brief engagement at the Dorchester, this experience reinvigorated him and he acknowledges that the hard work and discipline of working along side the Head Chef of this renowned french kitchen helped this Italian chef. At the end of 2011 he joined the team at Zafferano and it was whilst here he was approached to take on the Chefs position at the Italian Embassy in London.

In March 2012 he was offered the position of Head Chef at the Italian Embassy in London, a role which he still holds and gives him great pride and satisfaction, with the opportunity to cook for some of the most influential people in London and Europe. At the Embassy, he looks after the Ambassador and his family together with all of the banqueting and private dinners for visiting dignitaries, heads of state and royal families from across Europe.  Danilo explained that anyone visiting the Embassy is a guest not only of the Embassy, but of Italy and he prides himself on treating each one as a guest, and not a customer.

Watch Danilo’s video HERE Screen Shot 2016-02-01 at 17.27.24

This is my second Ambassador I have worked for he told us. When he arrived we discussed  a lot of detail of what would be required and first and foremost it would be to meet the needs of the Embassy. However,  the Ambassador supported the idea for me to set up my own company to not only service the Embassy but also corporate events and private dining. At the end of 2014 he opened  Danilo Cortellini Catering Service

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So, Chef, tell us about how MasterChef came about. I wanted to challenge myself so sent in an application, not expecting to be contacted. But they called and it was an amazing experience, a lot of pressure but very rewarding. I learnt a lot about myself and how and what I wanted to cook.

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Now chef, as we always do, we would like to ask you about the restaurants that are your ‘favourite tables’

Sushi Say (recently changed ownership and now called Sushi Masa) is one of my favourite places. We lived nearby and the husband and wife who ran the restaurant, and have done for years, became like friends. Everything feels authentic and the sushi is delicious. I really hope the new owners who have taken over when the original owners retired can maintain the high quality.

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I also, as often as I can, return to Italy to visit San Domenico.  I still love the food there. But recently I also visited the restaurant of a chef I have known for many years. It’s in the coastal town I used to visit and work in before coming to the UK. Ristorante Bistro 900 is in Giulianova run by chef Enzo Di Pasquale. This place reminds me of cooking at home with my family, using the best and freshest ingredients found locally.


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Can I also mention Pierre Koffmann, his pigs trotter dish is just amazing…thought you should know



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