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    You are in: Home / Community Forums / Celebrity Chefs and Famous Cooks / Nico Ladenis -- once a bad boy celebrity chef!
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    Nico Ladenis -- once a bad boy celebrity chef!

    Sun Mar 30, 2008 4:59 am
    Forum Host
    Nico Ladenis first came to the attention of foodies worldwide when his rude attitude to his customers were widely talked about in the media. You didn't complain in Chez Nico. The redoubtable chef would appear and tell you that if you didn't like his food, you may leave! Right now, please!http://www.hub-

    Whether these stories were all true, is another matter.

    Nico Ladenis became a top celebrity chef in London in the 70's, 80's and 90's. He had been born to Greek parents and was brought up on a sisal plantation in Tanzania, where he was surrounded with wonderful fresh produce, which inspired him to turn to the world of cooking.

    He apprenticed himself to Roger Verge, the legendary 3 Michelin star chef of the Moulin des Mougins near Cannes.

    He went to London, with the ambition, as he said in no uncertain terms, to reach the top of his profession. Aged 39 in 1973 he opened his first restaurant in Dulwich. Then, in 1995 in his restaurant Chez Nico, he reached the ultimate: he was awarded 3 Michelin stars.

    In 1999 he did the unthinkable: he met with the director of the Guide Michelin, and asked not be be inspected any more, as he was changing direction ... In fact, he was giving back his Michelin stars, an unheard-of thing!

    Nico had built up a great reputation for his food, but his new venture which he called a brasserie, was not exempt from criticism from food writers:

    Our canapés, for example, were delicate oblongs of quiche. They were OK oblongs of quiche, but they were still quiche. It seemed such a sweet retro 70s touch that I decided to stick with the theme for my starter by ordering the dressed jumbo prawns 'cocktail'.

    I assumed those inverted commas to indicate a certain irony. Not a bit of it. This was a prawn cocktail down to the pink Marie Rose sauce. It was not a great argument for the dish and definitely not at £12.50. My companion, Sarah, did better with a tian of dressed crab, the top layer of which was a robust disc of the brown meat dusted with cayenne. The accompanying celery rémoulade was, however, distinctly underwhelming.

    Thinking I could now leave the 70s theme behind, I ordered breaded sweetbreads 'Pojarski', not having a clue what the last word meant. I now know it refers to a 17th-century Russian prince who defeated an invasion by the Poles. Here it also referred to a crisp-fried disc, within which the sweetbreads were bound together with shreds of pork that overwhelmed them.

    But Nico had health problems, and after 2002 he sold all his businesses, although he stayed on as a consultant. He and his wife Dinah-Jane retired to Draguignan in the south of France. They travel a lot, and he says the only cooking he does now is for him and his wife. He has published a couple of recipe books geared to the home cook.

    A journalist who managed to talk to him there says he is, in fact, a soft-spoken, kind and patient man. Who knows: the early bravado might have been a clever way to get free publicity!

    Last edited by Zurie on Sun Mar 30, 2008 12:45 pm, edited 1 time in total
    French Tart
    Sun Mar 30, 2008 5:36 am
    Forum Host
    Another great chef to promote Zuri - thanks! I am just about to log off here - but will be back to read it all in full later!
    Merci encore!
    FT icon_biggrin.gif

    Last edited by French Tart on Sun Mar 30, 2008 12:57 pm, edited 1 time in total
    Chef Shadows
    Sun Mar 30, 2008 7:35 am Groupie
    I have not heard of this one.... do you have recipe examples to share?
    Sun Mar 30, 2008 12:50 pm
    Forum Host
    Chef Shadows, I was under the impression that he wrote a couple of cookbooks, but in fact after I researched a bit more, I could find only one. It's called "My Gastronomy".

    Nico in his heyday in London definitely did not hand out recipes! He was much talked about and his 3-star Michelin restaurant was exorbitantly expensive. But people booked months in advance to "experience" this chef and to hope that someone will query a dish or complain -- to see Nico storming out of his kitchen into the restaurant ...!

    He seemed to have mellowed with age!
    Jacqueline in KY
    Mon Mar 31, 2008 9:43 am Groupie
    Although I have no idea who this chef is I enjoyed reading about him. Appears he was a rebel and wanted to do things only his way. Thanks Zurie I enjoyed reading it.

    Chef #1343916
    Thu Aug 06, 2009 2:11 pm
    Newbie "Fry Cook" Poster
    Love Nico!! I went to a job interview today and when asked who was my favorite chef of all time, i obviously said nico - and of course i got the job!!! Peace to all Chris
    Fri Aug 07, 2009 2:38 am
    Forum Host
    Chris, welcome to RecipeZaar!! icon_biggrin.gif icon_biggrin.gif

    On your My Page it does not say where you are from. We'd love to know a little bit more about you!!

    You could also click on "My Account" (riiight at the top right-hand corner of any page here). This will bring back your original page which you filled out.

    Instead of the chef number, why not add your name? Well, Chris, or any other name you fancy? It's easier than talking to a number!!

    We do hope you come back. And I wonder how ole Nico is doing these days? I found him very amusing way back when.
    Whirlwind in a Kitchen
    Wed Aug 03, 2011 10:48 am
    Newbie "Fry Cook" Poster
    I was fortunate to meet the great man at Simply Nico in the mid 80's

    Having ready his autobiographicalcookbook it was with some trepidation (while en route to the loo) that I ventured a "hello" - he was standing in the entrance to the kitchens!

    On my return journey he stopped me to ask if I was enjoying my meal. I confirmed I was & explained the occasion was a leaving gift for a good client who had enjoyed reading his book.

    During our deserts, without explanation, a chair was added to our table and Nico joined us! It transpired we shared a passion for Asian cooking (particularly Dim Sum) and over coffee Nico shared some of his favourite London haunts, dishes & cookery secrets.

    A fantastic end to a truly exceptional meal.

    His retirement to France, whilst well deserved, brings to a close an exciting 25+ years of colourful London Restaurant magic.
    Sat Mar 17, 2012 5:42 am
    Newbie "Fry Cook" Poster
    Nico Ladenis wrote a couple of books.."Nico" was the one that captured me the most when i first started cooking.. it was inspiring and really made me want to get the very best out of good quality raw materials. quality was key and from memory keeping it simple, over complicating a dish with far too many flavours like some of the chefs of that time just destroyed the core ingredient.. loved the book and the chef, but unfortunately never got the chance to try his food for myself.
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