5 minutes with… Francesco Scala

The executive head chef of Geode, Mayfair’s newly opened ‘vibe-dining’ experience on what diners can expect from the glitzy new restaurant.

Food and Drink 10 Oct 2023

5 minutes with Francesco Scala

What can diners expect from Geode?

People should expect a dining experience unlike any other. At Geode we have curated a truly unique menu that takes inspiration from both Mediterranean and Asian influences featuring robata dishes, rotisserie specials, gourmet pizzas and many heritage dishes revisited with a modern twist.

What does a ‘vibe-dining’ conceptual experience offer diners that a normal dining experience doesn’t?

At Geode, guests are able to enjoy a sophisticated three-course meal and indulge in truly spectacular food, while still being able to enjoy a great atmosphere. Where “vibe-dining” conceptual experiences set themselves apart from normal dining experiences is offering the opportunity for guests to stay at their dining location and still enjoy a late-night vibe, with quality DJs, live music and great cocktails. The London evening scene has often relied on guests having to move from a restaurant to a secondary location to enjoy this experience, whereas with the dining scene changing, the rise in “vibe-dining” restaurants such as Geode offer all of this in one place.

What made you want to work as executive head chef at Geode?

Working at Geode seemed like an exciting opportunity from the offset, particularly as it offered the chance for me to have creative control and put together an innovative menu which pushes some of the boundaries in the culinary world. I was also excited to work with Salvatore Broccu again, who has a remarkable career in London spanning over 30 years, and since we already worked together, I knew we would be able to create a successful restaurant and bar.

Francesco Scala
Francesco Scala

You work closely with chef Yuka Aoyama to create a Mediterranean and Asian-inspired menu. How have you found fusing these two popular cuisines?

While Geode focuses on Mediterranean and Asian inspirations, it isn’t a fusion menu per se, instead focusing on authentic dishes from both cuisines. With the huge popularity of fusion menus across London, we wanted to instead create something new, offering guests the opportunity to enjoy fresh and seasonal dishes from both delicacies. Working with Yuka has become natural to us both as we share the same passion and address dishes in the same manner, which has made it very easy to find the right balance in the Med-Asian menu.

Is there a dish on the menu that you are most proud of?

The beef tartare on roasted bone marrow is a particular favourite of mine, and a dish we are very proud of. The dish consists of beef fillet tartare with orange flower, on grilled bone marrow served with homemade thin rosemary crackers.

What do you wish more people knew about Mediterranean cuisine?

I wish more people were aware of the health benefits of Mediterranean cuisine. It’s characterised by a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins like fish and poultry. Olive oil, a staple in the Mediterranean diet, is known for its heart-healthy properties. The diet’s emphasis on fresh, natural ingredients contributes to a balanced and nutritious way of eating. I would also want to educate people on the idea of Mediterranean culture around food, the focus on the pleasure, to enjoy and stay at the table, which distinguishes the people of the Mediterranean from other cuisines.

What ingredients can you not live without?

A single ingredient I rely on is olive oil, however one element I cannot live without is fresh and seasonal ingredients. Each area of the Mediterranean has its own unique flavour profiles, which makes exploring this cuisine a delightful culinary journey. However, it is imperative that the ingredients are fresh to reach their full potential. The difference comes from small producers and skilled hands across the world.

The menu takes inspiration from both Mediterranean and Asian influences
The menu takes inspiration from both Mediterranean and Asian influences

What do you think of the restaurant scene in London?

I think the London dining scene offers a lot of exciting prospects for the future of the restaurant industry, as new restaurants are constantly arriving in London. Brexit made this more challenging than it was in the past, as prices continue to rise. But with more diverse cuisines joining London, we believe this is a great time to introduce Geode to the city’s visitors. I’m excited to see what the future holds.

What is the best piece of advice you have received in your career, and why?

The best advice I ever received was given to me by my grandmother as she said goodbye to me before I left my father’s kitchen in Naples to work abroad in another kitchen. She said to me, ‘Remember who you are and where you come from. Make yourself loved by behaving politely, respecting others and helping those in difficulty. Be humble.’ I still treasure this today and it has become a way of life for me, Good kitchens and cooking come from teamwork; men and women working together to create something spectacular. This advice constantly reminds me to look out for those on my team, as a good team always wins.

What’s your favourite restaurant in the world and why?

While it’s not exactly round the corner, my favourite restaurant is Quay, in Sydney, which I try to visit every time I visit my friends there. The location is simply breathtaking, the chef is wonderful and has a real talent for being intuitive about picking up trends.