My mother, Lorenza de Medici, became famous for her cooking. One of the last scions of the famous Florentine dynasty, Lorenza wanted to introduce the public to a type of culinary experience that had been common amongst the patrician and noble families of pre-war Italy. On extended countryside retreats, these families would convene with professional chefs and trade newly discovered regional delicacies, and favourite recipes from all over the country.
In 1983, she opened one of Italy’s first cooking schools for non-professionals at our family’s winery. And in the years since, she has authored more than 30 cookbooks, becoming a celebrity chef in the US with her own cooking show. Raised in this household, it was inevitable that I would come to treasure traditional Italian dishes with their rustic charm and elegant simplicity. And also, that I would learn to make them the same way that my mother, and generations of Italian chefs before her, did.
Sadly, while I inherited my mother’s recipes, I didn’t inherit her charisma. So, the televised life of a celebrity chef has likely passed me by. But I say that’s TV’s loss, and Liphook’s gain – and once you’ve tried my food, and I’m sure that you’ll agree.
Food and drink have been my family’s passion for more than a hundred years. I was raised under the Tuscan sun, on the winery my father inherited from his mother (Badia a Coltibuono). And although I have swapped that sun for England’s rain-filled skies, I brought the lessons I learnt there with me (I figured it was easier to change the food than the weather).
In the 1950s, my father realised the winery’s rich potential – he broke with tradition, and instead of selling the wine to merchants, decided to bottle and label it himself. The estate is also surrounded by verdant olive groves, and again, it was my father’s entrepreneurial spirit that saw the value in them. He may have been the first person to ever bottle and market an extra-virgin olive oil (and in his account, he definitely was).
My childhood was spent working in these vineyards and olive groves, learning a deep appreciation for the importance of the land and its produce. Great wine comes from great grapes; great grapes come from great land. The role of the winemaker is one of cultivation – allowing the inherent properties to reveal themselves to the palate. Food is no different – it all begins with good ingredients.
At Guido’s, I have one simple rule: if I don’t like it, I won’t serve it. Our guiding principle is authenticity, and that begins with me. I want to share my appreciation of Italian food and wine, using only the best ingredients to create dishes that thrill the palate and bring a little bit of Italian culture to the beautiful village of Liphook – where I have built a home, as well as a business.
Guido’s is not just any restaurant – it is the restaurant I wanted to create. A place where I can blend the best traditional cuisine with modern standards around sustainability and ethical farming. A place where international conglomerates and mass-produced foods are barred from entry. A relaxed and informal place that nevertheless has its own special sense of style. A place where every bottle of wine has a story, every recipe has a history, and every patron gets a night to remember.