Celebrity chef Gary Rhodes stars in a new TV series, Rhodes Across Italy, on the Good Food channel later this month. He spoke to Kerstin Kühn about the programme and his plans for 2010.
Caterer Tell us about Rhodes Across Italy
Gary Rhodes The show is based on my travels all around Italy where I met up with all sorts of different food experts, from restaurant and hotel chefs to cookery school owners and food writers. It was a trip of discovery for me and one of the greatest culinary experiences of my life. I thought I knew a fair amount about Italian food but I discovered so many wonderful little secrets, flavours and culinary delights that I had no idea about before.
Caterer What was the biggest lesson you learnt?
GR I learnt so many different things and each area I visited had its own wow-factor. It wasn't just about new techniques but also about the flavours of the ingredients when they're at their best. For instance, in Liguria, I met this great man who showed me how to make focaccia. Really early in the morning, a farmer dropped off some fresh ricotta, which was only about two hours old. The flavour was incredible - it had a real sharp bite to it - and the farmer said it was all down to the atmosphere so early in the morning. He came back again in the evening with some more ricotta and it tasted completely different, much more creamy with less of a bite. It's incredible the effect the environment can have.
Caterer What are your plans for 2010?
GR I have a few more TV projects lined up, which I'm very excited about. As far as the restaurants are concerned, the main goal is to stay consistent and keep our customers happy. I'm in discussions at the moment to potentially launch a second restaurant in Dubai. I have a restaurant at the Grosvenor House but will hopefully launch a second venture at its sister hotel, Le Royal Meridien.
Caterer The 2010 Michelin guide is published this month. Who would you like to see win new stars?
GR I'd really like to see Marcus Wareing gain three stars. He's such a great guy and a fantastic chef, he really deserves to go all the way and I'd send him masses of chocolates, Champagne and flowers if he did. I'd also like to see Le Gavroche regain three stars and for Michel Roux Jnr to get the recognition he deserves as the descendant of the true culinary godfathers of this country.
Caterer What types of cuisine do you think will be big in 2010?
GR There's so much modern British food around at the moment that really has nothing to do with British food at all. I'd like to see a return to true British food and a bigger focus on seasonality. It makes so much sense to use seasonal produce, not just regarding the quality of the produce but also from a business point of view.