Shop Tactics with Giacomo Maccioni

Along with delectable Northern Italian cuisine, Cecconi’s fabled Mayfair restaurant boasts one of the most likable restaurant managers in town – Giacomo Maccioni. Originally from Sardinia, Giacomo moved to London in 1979 and started his career at the Vendome Restaurant on Dover Street. Two years into the job, he was forced to do an about-turn and enlist for National Service with a Sardinian tank regiment.

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Having climbed the ranks to corporal major, Giacomo returned to London in 1982, becoming headwaiter at Scott’s on Mount Street. In 1990, he joined the team at Cecconi’s, first as chef de rang and then as assistant general manager. After Soho House & Co acquired Cecconi’s in 2004, Giacomo was promoted to general manager and has held the role ever since.

Away from the buzz of Cecconi’s, you’ll find Giacomo zipping about on his Honda Fireblade motorbike in the Hertfordshire countryside where he resides with his wife and two children. On vacation in Italy, he enjoys climbing the Sardinian mountains with friends. Back in Mayfair, his attention turns to chocolate, shoes and other coveted pieces from his favourite haunts, which he reveals below:

Charbonnel et Walker, 1 The Royal Arcade, 28 Old Bond Street 

Charbonnel et Walker’s chocolates are fabulous! When I want to spoil my wife, I always pop in here to choose a good selection of chocolates for her. I also like to buy Charbonnel et Walker chocolates as a ‘thank you’ gift. The staff at Cecconi’s will verify this!

Mulberry, 50 New Bond Street

Mulberry products are such high quality, I find its bags rather hard to resist. They are also practical – you can tell that each design is well thought-through. I own a few Mulberry bags, and my wife is also a fan of its handbags. The latest addition to her collection is the classic black Bayswater, which goes with everything.

Richard James, 29 Savile Row

I am a big fan of contemporary British tailor Richard James. I have several suits from him, made-to-measure as well as off the peg, and scores of fitted shirts. Richard’s style of tailoring is timeless yet contemporary and Andrew Black who manages the Savile Row store is a top guy. I’d say he’s one of the nicest people I have ever met!

Camper, 8-11 The Royal Arcade, 28 Old Bond Street

I love this shop. I have about ten pairs of shoes from Camper and I wear them constantly. I just love the simplicity and the originality of Camper’s designs, not to mention how comfortable the shoes are to wear.

Claridge’s Hotel, Brook St

Claridge’s is housed in such an iconic building. The stunning Art Deco touches make this hotel so special. I do like going for the odd afternoon tea there. The finger sandwiches are so light and delicious.

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Rocking the Art World

Self-taught visual artist Geronimo, aka ‘Jumping Bull’, was first introduced to Keith Richards during the final leg of a Rolling Stones world tour. A firm friendship was forged and several years later, Keith, along with Mick Jagger, Charlie Watts and Ronnie Wood, still takes centre stage in this Native American artist’s paintings, portraits and sculptures. The band’s legendary tongue logo, made from flattened Coke cans, also ranks high among Jumping Bull’s most recognised pieces. His latest work can be seen in a new solo show running this month at The Club at The Café Royal. In conversation below, the artist tells of overcoming colour blindness and how a troubled past led to a successful career in art.

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“Homeless gangster, businessman, composer, performer, music producer… That’s the story of my life before I became an artist. Late 1990 and I’m in jail for old offences. It was there that I began to paint. Initially it became my therapy, allowing me to rid myself of my inner demons. Art gave me freedom in every sense. It became my reason to live and has contributed to my personal evolution. Two years after my release from prison I staged a museum exhibition. One year later I had my first international exhibition.

The Rolling Stones are an inexhaustible source of inspiration to me. Keith, Mick, Charlie and Ronnie are legendary icons. The band as a whole, but also as individuals, has been my main inspiration for several years. I’m fascinated by their incredible charisma, but also by the myths and legends that have developed around a group that has thrived for over 50 years.

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When I first met Keith Richards, we spent the whole night in his hotel suite putting the world to rights.  It was not an evening of sex and drugs, but one of rich exchanges and deep conversation. I met Keith the man, a humanist – not the rock star persona.  On another occasion, I visited a Buddhist temple with Charlie Watts and introduced him to the Tibetan monk, Lama Karta. Charlie then invited us both to a Rolling Stones concert where Lama and I went on stage to experience the effect of being in front of 100,000 people. It was an indescribable moment. Mick Jagger then asked to have his photo taken with us. Later, I met Ronnie Wood. Recently I created a giant LP for him. I also have one of his paintings in my studio. In 2014, Ronnie and I exhibited in London and later New York, in a show called:”50 Years of Rocking the Art World: a Celebration of The Rolling Stones”.

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I am a self-taught artist and I created my own style. Andy Warhol created Pop Art and you could say Jumping Bull created Rock Art.  I suffer from colour blindness or achromatopsia. When I was a child, I lost my sight for about three months. I recovered the sight but without colours. Today I see in black and white but also a whole range of grey.  All the colours in my work are based on memories. I remember that tomatoes are red for example.

I don’t have a favourite medium. I use China ink, masonry paint, acrylic and lime paint. I am comfortable painting on wood, metal or on linen canvas. I recycle. I create leather or polyester or metal pieces. This ensures I never get bored. Each of my works marks a new adventure and a clinch with my inner demons. I paint, I sculpt, I create objects and I make music and poetry. The artist I admire most is Mother Nature. Who else can create an oversized work such as the Grand Canyon or a mystical work like the Amazon rainforest?

I’m really excited to be showing my work in London again. An ideal stay in London for me would start with English breakfast at The Wolseley followed by a walk to Portobello Road to shop the vintage stores. Next, I’d visit some museums and art galleries. Lunch would be at Cipriani on Davies Street or fish and chips at Poppies in Camden. I love the decor at Poppies. In the afternoon I’d stop for a Guinness in The Hawley Arms pub – also in Camden – then I’d spend quality time at the Wendy House Studios with my friend Jerry and have an aperitif with another friend Byron, at The Café Royal. Finally, dinner at Koya would be followed by theatre or a musical comedy.”

Peyote – Modern Mexican Fare in the Heart of Mayfair

‘Peyote’ may take its name from the hallucinogenic drug used in Shamanic healing ceremonies, but there’s nothing untoward about this modern Mexican restaurant on London’s Cork Street.

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On a sultry summer’s day when only salad and fresh fruit will suffice, I am pleasantly surprised to discover that Peyote boasts a healthy menu, brimming with clean and lean Mexican dishes. Eduardo Garcia, the master chef behind Mexico City’s celebrated ‘Maximo Bistrot’, has specially created it.

My lunchtime host, Peyote owner Tarun Mahrotri, informs me that the menu is ninety per cent carb-free while the crunchy tostadas and tacos being corn, are totally gluten-free. There’s more good news for the time-starved who work locally. Peyote’s new lunchtime delivery service is now up and running.

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Ever the modern entrepreneur, Mahrotri casually lets slip that just last week he was climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. Today though, he looks as cool as a cucumber dressed in a crisp white shirt, (monogrammed on the hem of the shirt front), jeans and heavy-framed specs. He orders the guacamole to start. It is good. Fresh and zingy thanks to a good squirt of lime and a light hit of chilly.

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“The secret to great Mexican food is the spices – the chillies,” he notes. “People often associate heat with Mexican cuisine but there are so many subtle flavour nuances in the chillies we use – cool, hot, sweet… They don’t have to make you gasp for water.”

Mahrotri is also on a mission to improve tequila’s reputation and plans to run tequila tastings at the bar later this year. “So many people have bad memories of drinking cheap tequila shots in their youth but it can be an incredibly sophisticated drink,” he says.

I imagine this would be a cool setting in which to sample tequila and any other of Peyote’s mescal-fuelled cocktails. The interior has a subtle hint of an old-style hacienda about it. There are painted tiles, oak window shutters and parquet floors as well as bejewelled ‘Day of the Dead’ skulls set into the walls. Colourful lampshades, made from recycled plastic bottles found in the Amazon jungle by war-displaced artisans, are dotted around the ceiling.

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Meanwhile, my host orders the ‘Nopales Salad’, made with grilled cactus leaves. Having never tried cactus before I can report that it has a green-peppery bitterness about it – but it’s good. This is accompanied by the yellowtail sashimi served in a ginger broth. Lastly, the grilled fish wrapped in a lettuce leaf instead of a corn taco. The portions are bite size but just right.

Thanks to chef Eduardo Garcia’s modern vision and the pioneers behind other new-wave eateries including Mestizo, Lupita and Wahaca, London is fast becoming a mecca for authentic Mexican food. Gone are the days of heavy quesadillas smothered in gooey cheese and tacky Tex-Mex interiors. These days, there’s rarely a plastic cactus insight.

I leave Peyote with a spring in my step. And while there’s no chance of any dream-inducing ingredients pepping up the guacamole here, I think I’m already experiencing withdrawals.

Peyote, 13 Cork Street

www.peyoterestaurant.com

Shop Tactics with Mr.Hare

The idea for Mr.Hare, the men’s footwear brand designed by the dapper Marc Hare, was hatched at a roadside tapas bar in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains in 2008.  The story goes that Hare was so taken by the woven leather shoes of an old gentleman sitting next to him, that he decided to recreate them despite having no formal training in shoe design.

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The gamble paid off and today, Hare boasts two flagships – one on Stafford Street, Mayfair, the other on Westbourne Grove, Notting Hill. While London provides the lion’s share of inspiration, this season’s collection, which includes the classic Derby as well as woven slip-on sneakers, is currently handmade in Empoli, Southern Italy. As with all his designs, there’s a strong ethos behind them – mainly that they should be donned for nights out dancing, or lazy days with great food and good company.

Hare’s lifelong dream is to live in a beach house somewhere hot so that he can surf the days away before he gets too old.  In the meantime, he’s happy to stay home and indulge in a spot of camping, shopping for bespoke suits and a good Martini. Oh, and more dancing. Working as he does right next to Bond Street, he explains his fondness for the following hotspots:

Hendrix on Brook Street

My favourite thing about Mayfair isn’t a shop or gallery or restaurant, it is the fact that 23 Brook Street is the only place Jimi Hendrix ever called home. There is the blue plaque to prove it. No 25, right next store, is where Handel lived back in the 1700s. Did you know that the first ever musical recording to be broadcast via radio on Christmas Eve 1906 was Handel’s Largo, effectively making this 10-metre stretch of Mayfair pavement the most Rock n Roll corner in the world.

Dukes, 35 Saint James’s Place 

I know it’s one of the most famous drinking holes in Mayfair but the Martinis are just soooo good! I don’t even like vodka or gin, which just goes to show just how good they are. I am famously a rum man to my bones, but for some reason I have no problem drinking about half a pint of neat vodka out of a classic Martini glass if only to witness the theatrical lemon twist performed by the bartender. How James Bond author Ian Fleming ever got anything done here, I will never know!

Royal Arcade, Old Bond Street

Speaking of rum, Charbonnel et Walker in the Royal Arcade, famous for their Marc de Champagne Truffles, which incidentally is also my rap name, make a rather delicious Appleton Estate Jamaican Rum Truffle. At the other end of the Arcade is the William Weston print gallery. Not only is it a purveyor of print works from some of the 20th Century’s finest painters; Chagall, Picasso and Degas, but it also always has a small selection of perfectly priced antique bits and bobs in the window for that special last minute gift.

The Royal Academy, Burlington House, Piccadilly

Having one of the world’s greatest art institutions right on your doorstep is something one should never take for granted. From the mega blockbusters like Rubens, Hockney and Van Gogh, to the eclectic Summer Exhibition, there have also been consistently interesting Burlington Gardens exhibitions of late. These include Allen Jones and Richard Rogers. The RA is in my opinion the real beating heart of Mayfair and the thing that makes me love the area so much.

Cafe Murano, 33 Saint James’s Street

I travel to Italy a lot, so the spirit of Italian cooking is in me. Angela Hartnett’s lovely Italian restaurant on St James is about as close as it gets to being back in Tuscany after a hard day being a shoemaker. It boasts classic North Italian dishes, massive leather banquets and even a Ribolla on the wine list. Maybe it’s because the first time I ate there was in winter and I had Osso Buca. Or maybe it’s because the very tasteful classy interior is also worth noting. Anyway, there is something about this relative newcomer to the area that makes me feel like it could be a favourite for quite some time.

The Beaumont Hotel  

Ever wondered what it would be like to bed down for the night inside a contemporary artwork created by a world-famous artist? Well, here’s your chance. 

I am rather partial to Art Deco architecture. The Sussex seaside town where I grew up was designed around a 1930’s lido and dotted with Deco-inspired holiday chalets. So, my first visit to The Beaumont hotel, set in a listed Deco building, meets with my approval.

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Opened in September 2014, The Beaumont is the work of London restaurateurs Chris Corbin and Jeremy King. They already own The Wolseley, The Delaunay and Café Colbert, but this is their first venture into the hotel business.

Tucked away in a quiet square behind Oxford Street, The Beaumont’s central location puts you in proximity of Bond Street, Oxford Street and Hyde Park, as well as the celebrity playground that is the Chiltern Firehouse.

It’s a far cry from the car rental business, which occupied the site for years. These days, the only automobiles you’re likely to see parked out front are Jeremy King’s vintage Bristol and the hotel’s courtesy car. The latter, a Daimler, is chauffeur-driven and in this bygone setting you can easily imagine a fictional character such as Hercule Poirot getting in.

Meanwhile, with museum quality art and sculpture increasingly being integrated into public and private spaces, it was only a mater of time before London’s luxury hotels upped the wow factor. ROOM is a habitable sculpture designed by British artist Antony Gormley to sit on The Beaumont’s façade. The giant crouching cuboid figure was commissioned as a piece of public art and so by rights, anyone can take a look at it from inside as well as out, but just be sure to call the concierge in advance.

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The unique interior features a suite measuring 4 square metres wide and 10 square metres. It contains a high fumed oak-clad bedroom, which is accessed up some steps and through a heavy blackout curtain. Aside from being pitch black, the room is eerily quiet considering this is central London. I can see why it would appeal to an art-loving insomniac – one with £2,250 to spend per night.

Elsewhere, room rates start at £395. I especially like the Deco touches in each room and suite. Even the laundry drawers contain embroidered shoe bags and cleaning kits. I also spot Deco signage in the underground spa, which houses a small Turkish Hamam. Here a 30-minute body scrub costs £65.

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Then there is the Cub Room, which is designed exclusively for hotel guests. It feels like a gentleman’s club complete with wood panelling and original ‘30’s paintings, which King’s art-collector wife picked up on her travels.

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Images © Ruth Ward

And finally, the hotel’s Colony Grill Room and The American bar. I’m here on a weekday and it is packed, mostly with men in suits. Specialities include a Caesar Salad made at the table, while the bartender recommends the house cocktail – aptly called The Beaumont. It fuses champagne, elderflower, pineapple and sherry.

Before I leave, Nigel Bowen, head concierge and a fountain of knowledge on the surrounding area, kindly gives me a hotel umbrella to fend off the afternoon deluge. He recommends I cross the road to the Italian terraced garden, which sits above a Victorian electricity sub-station, for the best view of the Gormley sculpture. From this vantage point, I see what appears to be a giant robot staring back at me.

The Beaumont, Brown Hart Gardens

www.thebeaumont.com

Shop Tactics With Abdullah Al-Turki

Saudi-born Abdullah Al-Turki is a contemporary art collector and founding member of the Saudi Art Council, which runs the annual initiative “21,39 Jeddah Arts”. He also sits on Tate’s Middle East North Africa Acquisition Committee, Guggenheim Middle East Council and works closely with London’s Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA). He has recently co-curated the ICA’s latest instalment of ‘Off-Site’ projects: Hong Kongese. The showcase opens in Hong Kong during Art Basel (March 15-17th) and features a group of leading international contemporary artists.

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When he is not travelling to art fairs around the globe, Abdullah counts Mayfair as his second home. In his opinion it is the healthy mix of shops, offices and restaurants, which makes this neighbourhood stand out from any other area of London.

As for buying contemporary art, his advice is always look for the idea not the visual aesthetics or the subject matter, and always follow your instincts. The dedicated follower of fashion also knows how to spot the perfect white shirt and jeans. As for his all-time favourite cheeseburger, pastry chef and DJ night – he reveals all below.

Peyote, 13 Cork Street

Peyote restaurant and bar is mind-expanding in a ‘different’ way. The owner has consulted with Mexico’s most celebrated chefs and uses fresh ingredients to create a unique and authentic cuisine with a modern twist.  The food is delicious and the space has a great vibe.  I go there often during weekends as they usually have great DJ’s spinning live.

Chucs Bar & Grill 30B Dover Street

I first came to know about Chucs through their chef who is also behind the great menu at ‘KX Gym’. At Chucs, the menu features a mix of Italian and continental dishes, all made with the finest ingredients from Positano. With its wood-panelled, yacht-like interior and staff dressed in nautical uniforms, you feel as though you are out at sea. The restaurant is open all day, which makes it particularly useful after gallery hopping, or shopping in Mayfair.

Acne Studios, 13 Dover Street  

Swedish design collective Acne (Ambition to Create Novel Expressions), was founded in 1997 by Mr Jonny Johansson. Initially, the brand specialised in jeans but has since become synonymous with sleek, modern classics infused with Scandinavian cool. The designs are always practical and the colours really reflect my personal style. I buy all my jeans from here, as well as the white button down shirts, which I wear on a daily basis. I also love their quirky slogans such as “You First” etc.

Dover Street Arts Club, 40 Dover Street

The Dover Street Arts club has become my second home ever since it re-opened a few years ago. These days, I spend a lot of time here for meetings and entertaining. The service is always great and the roster of chefs, never fail to impress. There are a wide variety of cuisines to meet everyone’s taste and service is provided all through the day. My favourite cheeseburger in London is the one made here. They also serve amazing sushi. Chef Claude, the pastry master, is very innovative and I believe he bakes the best banana cake pudding in town!

Mayfair Galleries:

Sprüth Magers Gallery, 7A Grafton Street

Skarstedt, 23 Old Bond Street

Dominique Lévy Gallery, 22 Old Bond Street

Pace Gallery, 6 Burlington Gardens

Sprüth Magers Gallery is just a few steps from Old Bond Street and I am a huge fan of its art programme. I highly recommend seeing Barbara Kruger’s early works now on at the Skarstedt space and the white abstract exhibition at the Dominique Lévy Gallery. Another current show I would recommend is “A Strong Sweet Smell of Incense”, at the Pace Gallery. This showcases many of the leading figures on the American and European contemporary art scene and gives an insight into their relationship with London between the ‘60’s and ‘80’s.

Shop Tactics With Ashley Parasram

As co-founder of equine membership club – The Riding Club London – Ashley Parasram first took to the reigns while studying in Eastern Finland. He later became an amateur show jumper whilst working for the World Bank in Indonesia. Today, the club provides access to fine horses, venues and instruction in the heart of the capital as well as beyond. So where does this stylish globetrotter like to dismount when he is back home in London?

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Image © Ruth Ward 

Claridge’s Hotel, 49 Brook Street

The cocktail bar in Claridge’s provides a wonderful pre-dinner drink venue and is only a stone’s throw from the Savile Club where we often host Riding Club Dinners. It’s a very stylish and cosy room to sip a drink in and enjoy the atmosphere before dining. The staff are very attentive. I’ve never had to wait longer than 20 seconds before the cocktail order was taken and 1 minute 30 seconds before holding it in my hand. Very impressive!

Burberry, 21-23 New Bond Street

Although I don’t spend as much time here as I would like, it has a wonderful selection of ties and is the ancestral home of my favourite tie. The store is lovely to wonder around in and see the classic British designs. On occasion, I dream of walking in and finding an 18th century riding coat. These are making a comeback and are just waiting to be taken out for a spin in Hyde Park.

Mulberry, 50 New Bond Street

This is such a wonderful store with a fine selection of clothing and accessories. I always gravitate towards the latter with the hope that I will find the same style of key ring I once had. It featured a lovely woven leather strap, which was attached to your belt and had a brass fitting on the end for keys. The idea was that you would never leave your keys behind. Almost fool proof but sill I managed to leave the keys and the key ring somewhere. I’m hoping the design will make a return to the Mulberry collection one day.

Charbonnel et Walker, 173 New Bond Street

The best drinking chocolate in the world! In the winter mornings when I go riding in Hyde Park, I make my own version of a mocha using Charbonnel et Walker’s drinking chocolate and coffee. This is a perfect start to my day. If however it’s a bitter cold morning then a shot of whiskey is added!

Smythson, 40 New Bond Street

You can’t beat a Smythson’s diary. Spending half the year overseas, it feels like I’m carrying a piece of London with me wherever I go. I don’t know where I would be without a note pad. Even my ‘to-do’ lists have sub-sections of to-do lists!