Giorgio Locatelli joins The Big Family Cooking Showdown as a judge alongside Rosemary Shrager and hosts Zoë Ball and Nadiya Hussain. But who is this Italian chef with the floppy hair and the piercing stare?
What is Giorgio Locatelli famous for?
Locatelli is an award-winning chef who has picked up several Michelin stars through his career. He now runs one of the top Italian restaurants in London.
Yes – he starred in the documentary food series Italy Unpacked, and also appeared in Sicily Unpacked, A Taste of My Life and Great British Food Revival.
Locatelli was in the TV show Pure Italian back in 2002 and also filmed a BBC2 show with Tony Allan, titled Tony and Giorgio.
Little Giorgio was born into a cooking dynasty in Corgeno in Northern Italy. Growing up he helped out in the kitchens of La Cinzianella, his uncle’s Michelin-starred restaurant, and as a child he also experienced what it takes to run a family pastry shop at his cousins’ place near Milan. Everyone in his family cooked.
“My first memory of food was sitting on a stool at the table and watching my big brother help our grandmother make gnocchi, and feeling so jealous because I wasn’t allowed to join in,” he told Radio Times.
As a young man he worked at restaurants in Italy, Switzerland, Paris and London – including at the Savoy. He rose to head chef at Olivo in London’s Eccleston Street, before becoming head chef at a brand-new restaurant, Zafferano, in 1995.
It was here that Locatelli really gained notice, winning Best Italian Restaurant at the London Carlton Restaurant Awards (twice) and earning his first Michelin star in 1999. During this time he also opened two new restaurants, Spiga and Spighetta (both now closed).
In 2001 Locatelli left Zafferano. The following year he and wife Plaxy opened a new restaurant, Locanda Locatelli, in London’s Seymour Street. The restaurant soon earned a Michelin star of its own and is now in its 15th year.
Locatelli was recently awarded the Commendatore OMRI by the Italian Ambassador for services to Italian gastronomy – the equivalent of a knighthood.
He has two children: Jack (27) and Dita (21).
The Big Family Cooking Showdown airs on 15th August at 8pm on BBC2