Tips from Italian cuisine chef, Theo Randall, scouring out the best Italian ingredients and working up sweet pasta dishes. That’s just a day in the life of Jeena Koshy, Head of Food and Drink Development at ASK Italian. She tells us all in this month’s Meet the Chef.

What’s your day to day at ASK Italian?

When we asked Jeena to describe dining at ASK Italian in five words, she said“Nowhere else I’d rather be.”And from the way she’s gushed about her day to day role, it’s clear as day she feels the same about working at ASK too: “I love working as Head of Food & Drink Development because no two days are the same. One minute you’re out getting inspired, the next you could be cooking and tweaking a concept until it’s perfect. It’s hard work but I think it’s the best job going!

ASK Italian’s traditional Italian food.

As well as being passionate about her role, Jeena’s passionate about bringing authentic Italian food to ASK Italian’s menu too: “Our food is rooted in Italy, whether that’s with an Italian ingredient, recipe or craft. We visit Italy every year.” Jeena also told us which Italian ingredients make their dishes taste so authentic: “No Italian cuisine would be complete without theholy trinity of garlic, onion and tomatoesand we source these key ingredients directly from Italy. You’ll find some of them in one of my favourite ASK Italian dishes, Spaghetti Pomodoro. It’s so simple – spaghetti in a rich tomato sauce, topped with fresh mozzarella and basil.”

Spaghetti Pomodoro from ASK Italian

“A good glug of extra virgin olive oil is the perfect finish to a bowl of pasta or salad, and we buy this directly from olive-growing brothers Luca and Giuseppe Esposito from Puglia in southern Italy. They insist on picking and pressing their olives within 24 hours of harvest.”

Tips from Theo Randall at InterContinental.

As well as taking inspiration directly from Italy, the restaurant also call on Italian cuisine chef, Theo Randall, who owns Italian Fine Dining restaurant, InterContinental. Jeena tells us: “We’re also fortunate to work closely with ourexpert friend Theo Randallon product development. He is an expert in Italian cooking and has worked with the brand for nearly 10 years.”

Theo Randall of InterContinental

Bringing in the history of Italian dining.

Spoken like a true foodie, Jeena explained to us why dining like a true Italian is about the whole experience: “We believe that the joy of eating the way the Italians do isn’t just about the food, it’s about making time to share the food you love with those you love, in a place where you can completely relax and escape the real world, even if it’s just for an hour. Whether that’s with classic Italian dishes or a more contemporary and playful approach to Italian food, our aim is to make every customer who visits us feel that joy.”

Meet the Chef quickfire questions for Jeena.

My first cooking memory is… Making buttermilk with my grandma after helping her milk a cow using only a tall metal bowl and a well-used metal rod! Long story to tell but it made me realise at an early age if you want the best, you need to put in the effort.

I was inspired to get into cooking by… My family. They’ve had a huge influence on introducing me to good food from an early age.I come from a family where everything centres around food.

My favourite ASK Italian dish is… I’d have to say Baked Chocolate Gnocchi. We were a bit nervous to launch pasta for dessert, but they’re so delicious! Little chocolate gnocchi pieces filled with Nutella, served with more chocolate sauce to dip into. They’re naughty but so nice!

If I could share a meal with anyone, it would be… Giuseppe Verdi. Not only because he was one of the best Italian opera composers but because he was passionate about Italian food. I would love to share our Rhubarb & Custard Ravioli to see what he thinks about the twist on this nostalgic dessert.

Five ingredients I can’t live without are…Garlic, onion, tomatoes, extra virgin olive oil and classic pesto.They bring out the amazing flavours of our dishes and make them taste brilliant.

If you could only eat one thing, it would be… Impossible question, you can’t ask a foodie that!

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