Flash-grilled: Francesco Dibenedetto

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

Francesco Dibenedetto chef de cuisine at Brooklands by Claude Bosi in The Peninsula hotel in London on the importance of a well-run kitchen

Related tags Brooklands Fine dining The Peninsula London Chef Michelin Francesco Dibenedetto

The chef de cuisine at Brooklands by Claude Bosi in The Peninsula hotel in London on the importance of a well-run kitchen, embracing opportunities, and memories of dining in Italy.

What was your first industry job?
My first industry job was as a first commis tournant at various established hotels across Italy, where I began my culinary journey and developed a passion for the art of cooking.

If you weren’t in kitchens, what would you do?
If I weren't in kitchens, I would love to be a farmer because I love working with my hands, in nature and spending my time around beautiful fresh produce.

What industry figure do you most admire, and why?
I deeply admire Michel Roux Jr for his unwavering dedication to culinary excellence and his ability to inspire and mentor aspiring chefs like me. And of course, Claude Bosi for his profound expertise and creativity which have been instrumental in shaping me into the chef I am today over the past decade.

What’s your pet hate in the kitchen?
My pet hate in the kitchen is lack of organisation and cleanliness. A well-run kitchen is essential for efficiency and delivering top-notch dishes.

What’s the oddest thing a customer has said to you?
One customer once asked if they could have their steak cooked 'extra rare'.

Sum up your cooking style in a single sentence…
My cooking style is a harmonious blend of classic techniques with innovative twists, focusing on showcasing the natural flavours of seasonal ingredients.

What’s the worst review you’ve ever had?
I prefer not to dwell on negative reviews, as I believe every experience, whether positive or negative, presents an opportunity for growth and improvement.

What advice would you give someone starting out in the industry?
Stay humble, work hard, and never stop learning. The culinary world is vast and constantly evolving, so embrace every opportunity to expand your knowledge and skills.

Which single item of kitchen equipment could you not live without?
A sharp chef's knife is indispensable in my kitchen. It's the most essential tool for precision and efficiency.

What would you choose to eat for your last meal?
For my last meal, I would eat masses of sheep cheese and seafood - cockles in primis, especially.

À la carte or tasting menu?
Tasting menu.

What’s the best meal you’ve ever had in a restaurant?
One of the most memorable meals I've had was at a small trattoria in Tuscany where every dish was prepared with the freshest local ingredients and served with genuine Italian hospitality.

What’s your favourite fast-food joint?
While I appreciate the convenience of fast food on occasion, my favourite indulgence is a classic Neapolitan pizza from a traditional pizzeria.

What’s the dish you wish you’d thought of?
I admire the simplicity and elegance of a perfectly executed Beef Wellington. It's a timeless dish that showcases culinary craftsmanship at its finest.

MasterChef or Great British Menu?
Great British Menu​.

What’s the most overrated food?
While personal taste varies, I believe certain food trends can be overrated, such as overly extravagant or gimmicky dishes that prioritise presentation over flavour.

You’re restaurant dictator for a day – what would you ban?
If I were a restaurant dictator for a day, I would ban any form of food waste and promote sustainable practices throughout the industry.

Who would your dream dinner party guests be?
My dream dinner party guests would include culinary legends such as Julia Child, Ferran Adrià, and Massimo Bottura, whose passion for food has inspired generations.

What’s your earliest food memory?
My earliest food memory is helping my grandmother in the kitchen, kneading dough for homemade pasta and savouring the aroma of freshly baked bread.

Twitter or Instagram?

What’s the closest you’ve ever come to death?
As a chef, I've faced many challenges and close calls in the kitchen, but I believe in maintaining focus, staying calm under pressure, and prioritising safety always.

Where do you go when you want to let your hair down?
When I want to unwind, I enjoy spending time with friends and family, exploring new restaurants and cuisines, and immersing myself in nature.

What’s your tipple of choice?
I appreciate a well-crafted cocktail or a fine Italian wine, depending on the occasion.

What’s your favourite food and drink pairing?
One of my favourite pairings is grilled octopus with a crisp Assyrtiko wine from Santorini, Greece, showcasing the perfect balance of savoury and refreshing flavours.

What do you consider to be your signature dish?
I love a good surf and turf - eating meat with shellfish. I would say grilled lamb with cockles preserved lemon and potato, a typical dish from the south of Italy.

Earlier this year, Brooklands became the quickest restaurant in recent memory to enter the UK and Ireland Michelin Guide with two stars, how do you reflect on that achievement?
Being recognized in the Michelin Guide with two stars for Brooklands is an incredible honour and a testament to the dedication and talent of our entire team. It validates our commitment to delivering exceptional dining experiences and motivates us to continue pushing the boundaries of culinary excellence.

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