10 minutes with: Giuseppe Turi, Enoteca Turi

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 10th July 2015
Enoteca Turi is an independent, authentic Italian restaurant in London, founded in 1990 and surrounded by chain restaurants. Now celebrating its 25th anniversary,  The Staff Canteen spoke to owner Giuseppe Turi about why the restaurant has been so successful for so long and what to expect on their anniversary menu. Lamb 2 low resGiuseppe grew up in Puglia, Italy, and moved to London in 1982, starting work at the Athenaeum Hotel and then the Connaught Hotel as a sommelier, where he first learnt about food and wine and the chemistry between them.

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He then returned to the Athenaeum as restaurant manager, before deciding to open his own place. He said: “Coming from Italy there was a willingness in me to explore the Italian cuisine and explore those tastes that you find in Italy. I wanted a place where I could express my feelings about Italian food and showcase the best that Italy can produce. “It was about exploring more and learning more, in my own playground where I am in charge. I had this passion to explore more about Italian food and wine. It was an adventure for me, I had enough knowledge to have my own take on the world and express what Italy had to offer.” Giuseppe found the hardest part about opening Enoteca Turi was finding a chef who was prepared to follow his idea of food. “Most Italian restaurants at the time were very much of the stereotype, to produce food to a formula,” explained Giuseppe. “To find someone with the technical skill and ability to take me through this idea I had in my mind about Italian food was very difficult.”enoteca low res On why he thinks the restaurant has been so successful for so long, Giuseppe said: “Well there is a lot of luck in it, but my wife and I make a good team. I have the vision, the drive and the knowledge of the restaurant side of things, and she is has the ability to think through things, to work and keep the business on track, keep my feet on the ground. “I think part of the reason we’ve been successful is because I’ve never felt happy with it. Whatever I have done, there was always more I could achieve, so there was that constant search for improvement and to always be the best I could be.” Enoteca Turi specialises in authentic regional dishes, using traditional, seasonal ingredients with the menu organised by the native region of each dish, from north to south. Giuseppe said: “We don’t want to lose the heart and soul of the taste of the regional cuisine but at the same time we want to make it our own expression, every chef that has been here has expressed their personality. “The idea is always to keep the identity of the region, to be truthful to that heritage, never over refined, never over elaborate. The important thing is to preserve the flavour and highlight the essence of the taste.” michele low resGiuseppe recently hired Michele Blasi as head chef. Michele started his career in 1985 working in 5 star hotels in Northern Italy, before working with Claudio Sadler at Sadler’s Restaurant, and later starting up Sadler Banqueting in partnership with Claudio. Giuseppe explained the decision to hire Michele: “Everyone in a place starts learning and grows and then in any situation you reach the place where they have no more to give and no more to take. This happened with our last chef so it was time for him to leave and for us to find someone who could bring new ideas to Enoteca. “Michele has been wonderful with that, he has come from a brilliant background and it is just the right time to move the restaurant forward, which he is doing very well. His cooking is based on his own take on the regional tastes of Italy, so we couldn’t have found a better person.” To celebrate their 25th anniversary this year, Enoteca Turi are introducing an anniversary tasting menu, showcasing the most popular dishes in the restaurant since it opened. Giuseppe explained: “For the 25th menu we went through the past menu and took the dishes that people really enjoyed and had been very successful, both in popularity and showcasing the identity of the certain region.”Asparagus low res The tasting menu includes Pappardelle with duck ragout, created in 1990 as one of the original dishes at the restaurant. “We started that as an answer to the spaghetti bolognese, which at the time was everywhere,” said Giuseppe. “The other regions in Italy all had ragout, and we chose one from Tuscany done with duck. It was so popular we never took it off the menu!” Another dish on the menu is the seared scallops, with chick pea puree, basil, chilli and ginger dressing, which first appeared on the menu in 1996. Giuseppe said: “Chickpea with seafood has always been very much a southern Italian thing. Coming from Puglia we had this combination with the scallops and chickpeas and we added ginger, which is quite different from the usual southern Italian flavour, for a little twist to give it our own personality.” “This menu is about showcasing what we have done in the past and showing these regional dishes which have been less represented than they should have been.” JOS2015017D00034 low resGiuseppe has been on a constant search to learn as much as possible about the origins of Italian food, citing this as one reason why he felt he wanted to open Enoteca Turi, as a way to continue learning about the origins of Italian cuisine. He said: “That is what I find fascinating about food, how these ancient cultures where the root of food evolved from are still there with the people today, and that is what I find most exciting about food.” “For me, that is what drives me to be in the restaurant, that fascination. Maybe that is what keeps the restaurant always fresh and the food always interesting, constant research.” With 25 years experience at Enoteca Turi behind him, Giuseppe’s plans for the future of the restaurant are to keep moving forward and to keep striving for more. He said: “We still feel our product could be better, there is always something you could do more. That search for perfection and excellence, that’s what has always driven the business forward.” By Sam Wright

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 10th July 2015

10 minutes with: Giuseppe Turi, Enoteca Turi