David Partridge – La Collina, Little Brickhill
La Collina at The George Inn, Watling Street, Little Brickhill, Milton Keynes MK17 9LZ
Telephone: 01525 261 298
David Partridge has been a Chef for over 25 years. Having previously worked in a number of establishments, he is now a full-time Food Development Chef. He has previously worked as a Chef for La Collina and now works closely with the restaurant to take their popular Panzini dishes to the next level.
Arnaud Kaziwicz (Head of Food Development at Donantonio) competed in MasterChef: The Professionals this year. He only just failed to make it to the final three. That’s an achievement to be proud of, no doubt. But you just wonder (and no, we didn’t bother to ask) whether local Food Development Chef David Partridge, can sleep a little easier at night knowing he had a major say in the invention of the Panzini.
That might be a bold statement. But here at MK Select, we are convinced the varieties of Panzini sold at La Collina, Little Brickhill, will one day become famous. This dish will surely become incredibly popular with diners everywhere – not just in Milton Keynes.
Why didn’t we ask whether he sleeps a little easier? Because we think the answer must be an obvious “Yes! I do!” If you’re a Food Development Chef your job is to create new dishes that will sell well. You also need to be innovative. With the creation of the Panzini, David has worked closely with Antonio Zeolla (Owner of La Collina) to create a dish that is certainly new, innovative and unique.
What is a Panzini?
If you’ve never tried a Panzini it is actually quite difficult to tell you what they are. That’s because when you describe anything to anyone, they will immediately liken it to an experience relative to them. But how can you compare a Panzini to anything else when there’s nothing quite like this?
“With our Panzinis there are no rules. Our Panzinis are incomparable. That gives us the licence to continually evolve them.” Antonio Zeolla
One of our favourites is the Classico. Double homemade gourmet burger with layers of mozzarella, caramelised onions, pork belly and cheddar. The ingredients might sound familiar – but now imagine the above completely encased in a sour dough bread. This is just one of 9 varieties sold at La Collina which includes the likes of Goats Cheese & Mushroom and Saute chicken, bacon, mushroom, spinach and taleggio cheese.
The development and creation of the Panzini was a long, and sometimes arduous journey. The name itself has been kept in the locker by Antonio for 20 years – convinced one day, he would use the name for that ‘special’ dish.
Here we try to imagine the conversation between Antonio (Owner of La Collina) and David (Food Development Chef).
David : You should sell burgers
Antonio : This is an Italian restaurant!
David : I know it’s an Italian. You should sell burgers.
Antonio : Are you feeling ok today? This is an Italian. We are NOT selling burgers!
David : Sell burgers!
Antonio : No!
David : Burgers are the trend.
Antonio : Not in Italy they’re not and not in my restaurant.
David : Please?
Antonio : How about a burger wrapped in bread?
The rest as they say, is history.
What an earth were you thinking?
MK Select actually had the audacity to ask David “What on earth were you thinking? Burgers in an Italian restaurant?” The answer he gave? Well it actually made perfect sense.
“As a Food Development Manager I work across many food styles. At the time, it was quality burgers that were becoming increasingly popular. It was the start of a trend. Burgers and hot dogs were the next big thing. All major chains were adding burgers to their menu. The problem was – although they were doing this, most of them were not being innovative. That’s what the Panzini is all about. It’s innovative and it’s not just doing something different – it has to be amazing too!”
MK Select think Panzinis should come with a warning sign. A warning sign that says “Beware! Eat one, and within days you will be craving another.” This was particularly true in relation to the Editor’s brother who made the journey from London for a family event and sampled the Classico mentioned above. The Editor did not expect a call days later from his brother, asking whether he could return to Milton Keynes again that day. “To see me?” asked the Editor. “No! To eat a Panzini!” was the response. Thanks a lot!