Quickfire Questions with Danilo, our Head Chef
In our latest blog post, we talk to our Head Chef and menu creator Danilo. Danilo came to London over 20 years ago, working in a number of Italian restaurants and even getting on board the Bateaux London. Danilo joined the P&G team back in June 2017, with his first day on the job being at the Trinity Tide event, where Royals such as Princess Anne attended. Danilo takes pride in being a highly valued P&G team member, looking after all events, from the menu planning to attending the menu tastings. Once on site, Danilo ensures that he, and his team of 4 other chefs (which can go up to around 50 at some events!) delivers every event with the upmost care and standards, whether it be a small wedding or the Royal Windsor Horse Show.
Here we find out more about his fondest childhood memories in Italy, his creative inspiration and more…
Tell us about growing up in Italy...what was it REALLY like? What are some of your greatest memories?
Growing up in Italy was great - although I probably didn’t think so at the time! I grew up in Rome with all the commodities a large city gives you but also spent a lot of time within the countryside with my grandparents.
I have a lot of fond memories, like going with my Grandfather to buy fresh tomatoes to cook ‘passata’ for the winter or picking up grapes in my Grandpa’s vineyard and trying some of the first squeeze of the grape juice. Also, in my early 20’s I used to go with my friend in the night at the Colosseum, jump the fence and play hide and seek inside (lots of fun but pretty dangerous as there was no lighting...)
What was your first memory in the kitchen? What did you cook?
My first memory as a chef is wearing the starch stiff uniform with the awful wooden clogs... then cutting myself with a serrated knife trying to chop a courgette (first time in the kitchen using a knife!)
During the first year of catering school, we took part in the local artichoke festival with a stand (like a farmer’s market). Three days before the event we had about 500kg of artichokes dropped off in the school’s loading bay, and we had to peel and create every kind of recipe known (to the teacher…), we spent 3 days peeling and cooking and creating various dishes like pizza, lasagne and ‘Carciofi alla Romana’ (a typical dish of Roman cuisine) to name a few.
What made you decide on the big move to England?
When I started my career as a chef I didn’t see any opportunity for me to grow in Italy (you needed to know people to get into the best places…) so when a school friend of mine called to ask me if I wanted to come to England to work I grabbed the opportunity and took the first flight to London. My initial thoughts were ‘if I like it, I’ll stay otherwise I’ll go back’. Here I am 21 years later!
Who do you look up to when it comes to your creative and culinary inspiration?
The chef I looked up to was Gordon Ramsey (I ended up working at one of his restaurants under Angela Hartnett), but only after a couple of years of my arrival as in the beginning I only knew Italian cooking….
If you could prepare a meal for anyone, who would it be? What would you include on your ‘perfect’ menu?
I really like yuzu cured mackerel as a starter, lobster and scallop tortellini as a middle course, olive oil poached Halibut with artichokes and saffron as main course (I like fish, a lot). Dessert would be a strawberry and pistachio frangipane tart with mascarpone ice cream
I’ve never really thought about cooking for anyone famous, but I think it would be cool to cook for the Queen!