Laura's recently published book:
AT HOME WITH UMAMI
It is so hard to define yourself to others and often even harder to yourself. I remember once being handed a business card by a man in Moscow, it simply had his name printed on the front with the word ‘EXPERT’; so simple and yet so effective.
If I were able to be so frank I would print the words Cognitive Cook, because my work is all about exploring the inextricable link between flavours and feelings. For me it is about learning to taste what you feel and feel what you taste, it is a desire to understand and recognize the ingredients that affect the flavour of your life both in and out of the kitchen. They say that “to know” what we taste, is an illustration of our ability to process flavours, Cognitive Cookery is about consciously or unconsciously applying that knowledge to ultimately tweak or change the recipes of our lives. Life should taste mostly delicious and sweet. The sour, the salty and the bitter, are best reserved for the kitchen.
We are all on a journey and consequently my work is forever changing. My challenge is to truly taste each single flavour I encounter at life’s feast, and blend the essence of my gradual transformation into my books, products, recipes and writing for an outcome that hopefully communicates a single notion, more golden than the sum of its parts. Grab life and lick it, the magic is on the tip of your tongue!
Much of my passion for food comes from my Italian grandmother, who I would describe not as a Domestic Goddess, but as a Domestic Seargent Major. With five boys, a wayward husband and three hotels, she had to be. Another strong influence came from my international parents. My father Gino was an hotelier from the Adriatic resort of Jesolo near Venice where he met my British born mother. My family moved to Britain in the seventies and in 1984 my parents launched SANTINI - Belgravia.
MY FAMILY RESTAURANT
As every London cabbie will tell you, SANTINI is famed for being Frank Sinatra’s all-time favourite restaurant in the capital. An elegant and influential stalwart of the UK's Italian restaurant scene, it remains synonymous with authentic Italian food, premium quality ingredients and simple understated designer surroundings. Regular customers include captains of industry, international politicians, royal families and football legends. It was at SANTINI that the late Lady Thatcher ran into England manager Fabio Capello and tongue in cheek congratulated him on his prestigious appointment to manage eleven men. I have recently stepped back into the family business where my task is to take SANTINI into the future without losing past values.
SANTIN / SANTINI / SANTTINI
Just in case you were wondering, my family name is actually Santin because my father’s family came from the Veneto where names typically end in consonants. When he opened Santini, he added the ‘i’ at the end because he was concerned that Santin (pronounced Santeen) would actually be pronounced SAN-TIN and sound Chinese. Soon we all became Santini’s by association with the restaurant and when I launched my flavours collection in 2009, I added an extra ’t’ to my name to differentiate the two projects. Between us we have collected an extra ‘i’ and an extra ’t’ which spell IT… Not sure what that means but great food and hospitality is an inescapable part of my DNA!