Celebrity chef Gino D’Acampo on opening the floodgates for namesake restaurants in his family, following the launch of Luciano at the West End’s ME London…
Photos: Gino D’Acampo Hotels and Leisure
Every parent knows if you get one child an ice-cream after school, they either need to eat it quickly before their siblings see it, or you need to have ice-cream for everyone.
However, what every parent may not know is that if you name a restaurant after one child, your entire family will want a restaurant named after them too.
‘You can imagine the day I went back home with the idea of opening a restaurant in the name of my first son,’ says celebrity chef Gino D’Acampo whose restaurant Luciano – named after his first-born – is now open at ME London, the flagship hotel for ME by Meliá.
‘Everybody wanted a restaurant including my wife! Even my children’s nanny wanted a restaurant,’ he continues with his trademark energy and enthusiasm.
‘She was like, “Can I have one in my name?”, and I was like, “This is not a game!”‘
Even his mother-in-law Elizabeth wanted in on the action. She asked if he thought they should open up a fish and chip shop called Elizabeth explains Gino, adding: ‘I was like “Oh my God! What have I done here?”‘
I ask if he has plans to now open a fish and chip shop called Elizabeth, and Gino is emphatic.
‘No!’ he replies, ‘Absolutely no!’
‘I just didn’t want his name on the door, I wanted him to be involved.’
What Gino has done is launch an all-day eating, 100-cover restaurant in one of London’s swankiest hotels.
This follows a recent partnership between his restaurant group Gino D’Acampo Hotels and Leisure and Meliá Hotels International, the parent company of ME by Meliá, which marks a change of gear for the chef, who found fame on ITV’s This Morning.
Luciano is a dining experience fitting of its setting; the interiors combine polished white marble surfaces, warm woods and gold accents, to create a space that is stylish and sophisticated but relaxed as well.
While Luciano is a departure of sorts from Gino’s My Restaurants, it still retains the restaurant group’s ethos of ‘Good Italian food, presented well, cooked well and honestly priced’.
Unsurprisingly, Luciano (the son), who works with Gino, is at the very heart of the restaurant and was the starting point for many of the dishes.
‘My son is 19-years-old and is as huge fan of going out and eating in nice restaurants,’ says Gino.
“I sat him down and told him my idea, said we were in an amazing location and in a beautiful hotel, so what kind of food and recipes would he like me to work on?’
This has resulted in an à-la-carte menu that has been developed by Gino and Executive Head Chef Lorenzo Minini (ex- StreetXO, C London and Osteria San Lorenzo).
It boasts a substantial offering including pizza, pasta and antipasti with braised beef cannelloni, spaghetti lobster and rose veal cutlet Milanese as signature dishes.
Gino’s son was also involved in creating the look at feel of the restaurant, selecting wallpaper and fabrics.
‘When we started the project he was 18-years-old, and I did put a lot of responsibility on him. I told him that I just didn’t want his name on the door, I wanted him to be involved.
‘I like things to be truthful,’ Gino continues, ‘because then they are easy to remember. So my son got involved with every single thing.’
‘I think with positivity, people are going to go out, spend money and want to have fun.’
For many, the idea of launching a restaurant in current times seems like a risky wager, although Gino sees the pandemic as a moment of opportunity to grasp.
‘Everybody panics when you tell them you’re going to open a restaurant during the pandemic. But I looked at it in a completely different way,’ he says.
‘I thought if we are able to open a new restaurant in the pandemic – what an amazing thing to do. It’s an amazing message, not just for us in the Gino group [his restaurant group] but for the people out there as well.
‘We need to stop being negative about Covid. We need to start being positive about the economy. I think with positivity, people are going to go out, spend money and want to have fun. So my thinking was the opposite, my thinking was that this was the best time [to launch a restaurant].’
Luciano is open to hotel guests and diners for breakfast, lunch and dinner, 7am-1am daily; 336-337 Strand, London WC2R 1HA; lucianobyginodacampo.com