Giorgio Locatelli, the Italian chef behind restaurants at hotels in London, Dubai and Cyprus; primetime TV shows like Italy Unpacked, MasterChef Italia and The Big Family Cooking Showdown; and several bestselling cookbooks, sat down with Richard Frost to talk about everything from his new establishment Ristorante Locatelli and hotel dining to portion sizes and wine.

Locatelli on Amara

“One of the special things happening in this place is that we’re dealing with a family. Often in hotels, somebody puts in the money, someone else builds the property, then a management company comes in and runs it. What was attractive about developing a business here is that Demos [Demosthenous, Managing Director of Stademos Hotels] and his father Stavros not only built the hotel from scratch, but actually run it too. This makes it very personal for us.”

Locatelli on Amara’s setting

“The hotel’s location is one of the reasons that I took this restaurant. When the sun goes down here, the view is fantastic.”

Locatelli on wine

“We’ve got quite a large selection of wines at Ristorante Locatelli. We thought that with the warm weather here, people would drink more whites, rosés and champagnes, but the reds seem to have really taken off, especially among our Russian clients who love the wines from regions like Piedmont and Tuscany. They generally go for the best stuff too.”

The terrace at Ristorante Locatelli overlooks the Mediterranean and Limassol
© Pascal Reynaud

Locatelli on hotel F&B

“It’s amazing how hotel food and drink has changed in the last few years. I think hoteliers now understand that what gives a property character and makes it stand out is the food offering. Personally, I’ve found the standard’s been getting better and better when travelling around, particularly among four- and five-star properties.”

Locatelli on attracting the locals

“I like having restaurants in hotels that are used by the locals. In Locanda Locatelli [his Michelin-starred restaurant in Hyatt Regency London – The Churchill], 87% of our business comes from the front door, while only 13% comes from the property. I think that adds something to the hotel experience as well.”

Locatelli on partnering with hotels

“I started working with hotels because I didn’t have the financial strength to open a restaurant myself. Also, hotels really help chefs when it comes to putting in place the initial structure needed to get up and running.”

Pasta dish at Ristorante Locatelli in Cyprus' ultra-luxe hotel Amara

Locatelli on retaining creative control

“I’ve worked very hard in my life to achieve the standards that are associated with my name. So it’s very hard for me to allow anybody else to put my name on a restaurant door unless I can have 100% control.”

Locatelli on portion sizes

“At my venues, I guarantee you won’t leave hungry. Many Michelin-starred Italian restaurants are very Francophile with tiny dishes, but we’re not like that at all.”

Locatelli on Italian cooking

“One of the great things about Italian cuisine it its adaptability. But what makes the food in my restaurants Premier League is the quality of ingredients we use in our dishes.”

Words: Richard Frost