CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Top Italian chef Giorgio Locatelli volunteers at food aid project twice a week

Masterchef Italia judge rails about the amount of food that goes to waste

25 March, 2021 — By Dan Carrier

Giorgio Locatelli, far right, an colleagues at the Refugee Community Kitchen

HIS mouth-watering creations have earned him a Michelin star, the highest accolade available in the restaurant trade – but chef Giorgio Locatelli said this week that cooking food as a volunteer at a Kentish Town food aid project is more satisfying.

The cook, whose restaurant in Marylebone enjoys a global reputation for its Italian food, and his colleagues are helping out twice at the Refugee Community Kitchen.

It was set up in a former day centre in Highgate Road, Kentish Town, five years ago to help people in Calais but now feeds hundreds of people across Camden amid the coronavirus crisis. It uses surplus food stocks from catering firms and supermarkets.

Mr Locatelli, a judge on the Italian version of Masterchef, told the New Journal: “Cooking a dinner for customers paying £100 for a meal in a Michelin-starred restaurant, yes, that is professional satisfaction, to create something incredible. But this is a really an altogether different feeling.”

He added: “It touches a real nerve for us all. It is what making food is really about – and shows what good food can do. It bothers me – the amount of food wastage is so bad. To be able to recuperate this food and give it to people makes me proud – prouder than running a Michelin-starred restaurant.

“It should not be possible that we have this amount of food wastage, and have people in poverty and going without.”

Giorgio Locatelli in his role as a Masterchef Italia judge

Mr Locatelli, who lives in Camden Town, met the project’s director Janie Mac at The Observer news­papers Food Heroes awards, and then spotted her and the RCK team handing out food in Camden Town.

Mr Locatelli, his partner Plaxy and their daughter Margherita, decided to volunteer – and then his restaurant staff said they wanted to help too.

He said: “It was just the three of us at first – and then the team said can we come and help?”

And Mr Locatelli ensures that food dished up would not be out of place on a table at a good Italian trattoria.

He said: “We come in without knowing what is available and make a decision when we arrive what we will create that day.”

They seek to offer something different to other food aid providers. On the day the New Journal visited, the chefs were working on a pasta bake, ravioli in Béchamel sauce, roasted cauliflowers in a vinaigrette, broccoli in a goats cheese sauce and an apple pie.

He added: “We make sure it is colourful and tasty. There are lots of curries distributed already, so we wanted to give it more of a Mediterranean twist.”

His restaurant, Locanda Locatelli, in Seymour Street, re-opens on April 12.

“We are so eager to get back,” Mr Locatelli said.

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