Focus on Twist Kitchen
Born and raised in southern Italy, Eduardo Tuccillo cut his cheffing teeth in New York and now offers a fusion of tapas-style dishes with influences from his global travels. We asked the gregarious head chef of Twist Kitchen about his culinary life and why natural wine plays such a big part in his list.
Tell us a bit about your background...
Being Italian, food is our tradition. Growing up with your mother and grandmother - they teach you as kids, technical and educational ways of eating, how to cook, how to treat produce. The kitchen was my grandmother’s place, and we were 14 brothers and sisters, so her job was to feed us breakfast, lunch and dinner. So when I was little, I thought my grandmother’s house was a restaurant!
And when did you decide you wanted to cook for a living?
When I was 14. I had always liked cooking and eating good food, but I made up my mind then that I wanted to be a chef. I went to culinary school in Naples, got my diploma and then I travelled. I spent 10 years in New York and had a chance to work at Central Park Tavern on the Green and met so many French chefs, Spanish chefs, and that’s where I started to develop a vision of culinary gastronomy.
My job is firstly to promote the quality of ingredients and to know the story behind a product - food or wine. If I want dairy produce I want to know the farmer and what he gives to his cows. The same with wine. It’s about people as well as produce.
So how is this vision expressed at Twist Kitchen?
Twist is basically a study of my culinary journey, from the start to today as it goes on with me and my team researching ingredients around the world. We always try to use the best ingredients we can from local markets and it’s great to have the chance to meet so many farmers, in the UK, Spain, Italy, France. We try to use artisanal products like the cheeses we use and the best raw ingredients, so we don’t have to manipulate them too much in the restaurant to achieve the best flavours. So Twist is basically a fusion: you’ll find a bit of Japanese, mixed with Italian ingredients, French techniques with Spanish ingredients and so on. We have 13 tapas dishes on our menu, which change weekly and monthly, using whatever we find in the market that’s in season.
What inspired you to include natural wines on your wine list?
The world of hospitality has changed a lot and is continuing to change, whether that’s more focus on organic treatment, biodynamics, the idea of more ‘natural’ produce. Somehow those have become kind of business terms, so I prefer to look at it another way. Whether something is natural or organic or bio, people know, when they taste it, whether something is good or bad. So my job is firstly to promote the quality of ingredients and to know the story behind a product - food or wine. If I want dairy produce I want to know the farmer and what he gives to his cows. The same with wine. It’s about people as well as produce.
So that back-story makes the dining experience richer?
Yes, that’s why natural wine is important at Twist. We don’t want to be just a restaurant that has good food and good wine. We like to educate people about ingredients, people, tradition, but also it has to taste really good!
You have a long list of natural wines by the glass...
Yes - that’s to give the diner flexibility. I base it on my experience. When I eat out, I want to try different wines with different courses. I never buy a whole bottle. It broadens your experience of wine producers. And because we have a tapas concept in the restaurant, you’re having a lot of different tastes - not just starter, main course and dessert.
As you change your menu regularly, does the wine list influence your choices of tapas?
It’s a bit more complex than just matching wine and food, especially with natural wine because I believe it’s always changing. It’s a living product. We’ll always try wines with new dishes that we think will match - sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t. It goes up and down. But with the wines we’ve got on the list at the moment, we’re happy because they are stable within a range that will match well with a lot of our dishes. So if for example, we change one of our lamb dishes, or marinated bavette, we know that a certain wine will still fit into that scheme, if you like.
And will you guide diners towards those wines if they’ve ordered a certain dish?
Yes - I think you have to. I think only maybe 20% of people understand about wine. I don’t really understand wine! The language of it is very complex and people are influenced by name and by brand. Take Pinot Grigio: the name has come to stand for a type of commercial expression of that grape. So someone will come and order Pinot Grigio, thinking it’s going to be the product they know from the supermarket. But it’s not - there’s so much more to it.
What does the future hold for Twist Kitchen?
We’re always trying to give someone an experience that they will remember. I think we’ve done that in the time - two-and-a-half years - that we’ve been open and I hope we’ll keep on doing it. We’re very passionate people.
We asked Eduardo what he recommends to eat and drink at Twist...
Sample dish: 40-day-aged, grass-fed T-bone steak | Sample Les Caves' wine: Urbina Gran Reserva
Twist Kitchen, 42 Crawford Street, London W1H 1JW | Twist Kitchen
If you wish to sample or learn more about the wines by Bodegas Urbina or any other of the wines featured on the Twist Kitchen wine list please contact us directly:
[email protected] | +44 (0)1483 554750