We meet the fantastico celebrity chef at Liverpool's 360 Sky Bar
Gino D’Acampo never seems to slow down. If he’s not opening a restaurant, writing a new cookbook or launching a new supermarket range, he’s popping up on another television show or appearing around the country at one his popular “meet and greet” dinners.
On this occasion, it was a swish event at Gino D'Acampo Old Hall Street, within the INNSiDE by Melia Hotel, that got Confidentials a private interview with the man himself. We sat down with Gino in the 360 Sky Bar to talk about his Liverpool restaurant, Italian food, and a slightly quackers encounter with Gordo's duck a l’orange.
Gino D’Acampo Old Hall Street opened in September. What have been your highlights so far?
Gino: “I didn’t expect how popular this restaurant would be. I thought it would be popular because we have the beautiful sky bar where you can see all of Liverpool in 360 degrees, a big restaurant downstairs - the kitchen is insane. But I thought it would take a little bit of time to get popular. This restaurant got popular within two weeks, and it’s not slowing down at all. You kind of think, ok, maybe it’s just luck at the beginning, it’s gonna slow down. It never slows down. I think people really like the location and that to me is the highlight of the whole situation of this new restaurant.”
What’s the best feedback you’ve had?
Gino: “The one that I really like is when people say, we’ve just been in Italy - Rome, Naples, wherever they are - and the food is exactly the same that you would get in Italy. That’s what I’m trying to do! That means what we’re doing is working. That’s the best feedback ever."
Tell us about the influences behind your menu?
Gino: “They all come from my books; my cookery books. And the influence for my cookery books is coming from family recipes. So it all comes down to all these family recipes that I have, and I keep working on them. Sometimes I change them, sometimes I don’t. But they’re very family orientated recipes. I love the spring summer menu because it’s lighter, it’s more colourful, you get all the new vegetables coming in the spring, so it’s very exciting. When we choose the new menu, we’re always super excited in the restaurant.”
What’s your favourite dish on the menu and why?
Gino: “I have one dish that every time I go to the restaurant, I always have to have a double portion of. Courgette flowers - we get mini courgettes with the flower, and we stuff them with lemon zest, buffalo ricotta cheese and then Sardinian honey, and that’s one of the dishes that whenever it’s on the spring summer menu, I would rather have two starters of that than a main. Not many people can do it. It’s very difficult to make that dish. When we get it right, for me - nothing beats this dish. Sometimes I have three portions! Yes, I don’t care."
How is the menu at the 360 Sky Bar different from the main restaurant?
Gino: “This is more of a cicchetti style, the way we serve it. It’s a smaller portion, it’s like beautiful Italian nibbles. If you’re a nibbler like me, you probably prefer more of the sky bar menu than the restaurant menu. And the view! I mean, I think this place has the best view in town. It’s mind blowing. The colours, the lights in the night, it is such a beautiful city, Liverpool. Every time I’m here, I can hear the background of the Beatles. As soon as I see a sign for Liverpool or anything Liverpool, I start to sing Beatles’ songs!”
What do you think of the restaurant scene in Liverpool? Do you have a favourite place to go?
Gino: “When I go to these cities where I have my restaurants, I very rarely go somewhere else to eat. Mainly because I want to give the attention to my restaurant when I'm here. I don't want to spend two or three hours eating in somebody’s restaurant.
"Also because, I always ask around and I have a lot of friends in the business, as you can imagine; there is never somewhere so exciting for me to say, ‘You know, I’m gonna try that restaurant.’ I haven't heard of anything that exciting that I would leave MY restaurant to go to that restaurant.”
Your late father’s advice to you was “Stop dreaming and get on with it.” What’s your advice to your children?
Gino: "Great advice! I always say that, not only to my children but the people who say, ‘I was thinking, I was thinking.’ Stop thinking and do something, or it’s always going to be a dream and you’re never going to action it. Unless you’re going to do something about it, why are you telling me! So, I use the same advice.
Are they interested in following in your footsteps?
Gino: "Luciano, my older son, is working at our five star restaurant in London [Luciano by Gino D'Acampo] He was in Alderley Edge a couple of days ago, and he goes around the country to check all the other restaurants. So, one of them, definitely.
"The other one is too young, Rocco is 16. Let him finish school! I think eventually he will come into the restaurant business. Mia is nine, I don’t think she will be interested. Well not now - at the moment she’s interested in dancing and TikTok. And this dog that she got, Snoop. She doesn't want to hear about me and my restaurants."
My boss, Mark Garner, said he appeared as a contestant on the TV show, 'Chef vs Britain', and beat you with his dish of duck a l’orange. Do you remember that?
Gino: “Wow, you’re digging! Mark Garner? The name sounds familiar. Duck a l’orange - a French recipe. If he said he beat me with a French recipe, then he has all the right to do so. Why would I know about French cuisine? I focus on Italian cuisines. If you said to me, ‘I beat you with a tiramisu,’ I would be really upset! And I probably would not believe it. But because he beat me with a French dish, fine. Tell him, fine!”
Read again: Gino's 360 sky bar opens at INNSiDE Liverpool
Get the latest news to your inbox
Get the latest food & drink news and exclusive offers by email by signing up to our mailing list. This is one of the ways that Confidentials remains free to our readers and by signing up you help support our high quality, impartial and knowledgable writers. Thank you!