“Luxurious, elegant, but also warm and inviting”: Lydia Forte is evolving the art of eating and drinking well, Forte family style—in London, Rome, Milan and beyond. Food and drink are two of the great avenues to storytelling in our culture. Provenance, preparation, flavours and aromas: they can all, alone or together, convey a sense of place more immediately, and effectively, than almost anything else. They are also at the very root of hospitality: there’s little in the world that’s more welcoming, or that connects you to a setting and the people in it, than being offered a delicious meal prepared with care and talent, in equal measure.
Lydia Forte, Group Director of Food and Beverage, has made exploring the ways eating and drinking can define, enhance, and evolve the Rocco Forte experience her singular pursuit. Take a seat at any Rocco Forte hotel restaurant or bar, and you’ll immediately know where you are: creative cocktails, locally-made honeys and marmalades (and in the case of Balmoral in Edinburgh, salmon smoked in-house), produce from the family’s organic farms at Verdura in Sicily. A mix of comfort foods and light, fresh, healthy offerings—simple and satisfying, based always in exceptional quality of local and seasonal ingredients.
Forte hospitality is in her DNA, but Lydia’s training took place across some of London’s top restaurants, Mark Hix’s HIX and The Wolseley, under the aegis of then-owner Jeremy King. Her role today comprises all aspects of the Rocco Forte Hotels eating and drinking experience, from concepting to operations to nutrition. She works in tandem with Fulvio Pierangelini, Rocco Forte Hotels' creative director of food, who also oversees the vast gardens at Verdura Resort “He has taught me so much about food,” she has said of the award-winning Roman chef and onetime restaurateur. “Some say he’s like a food whisperer…When you go to his apartment in Rome, he might have just a few vegetables and somehow with what seems like nothing, he’ll conjure up a meal of dreams.” It’s why quality is at the heart of every Rocco Forte Hotels food offering, from the light perfection of the fritto misto at Irene in Florence (served with a side of local sweet-sour honey) to the delicately crusted organic lamb cutlets at Charlie’s at Brown’s Hotel in London.