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Luca Longobardi, the man they called “The Mafia’s Banker”, has officially opened his new restaurant, 108 Garage, on Notting Hill’s Golborne Road.

Chris Denney, formerly of Hambleton Hall, heads up the kitchen, and his dishes have already attracted a devoted following.

Chris’ menu is inspired by having worked around the world and features a unique seasonal mix of textures and tastes, influences and artistry. Many of his dishes change daily.

He chooses his ingredients carefully, using often overlooked cuts. Combining fresh flavours with a masterful alchemy, Chris produces an authentic, contemporary cuisine at 108.

Softening its raw, industrial roots with an eclectic mix of furnishings and artefacts, 108 is still pretty far from your traditional restaurant. By day offering a bright, relaxed atmosphere, by night it transforms into a heady mix of tastes, music and people.

It wasn’t by chance that Luca chose a garage for his first project. For him a garage is a place of research and repair; whether it’s researching new recipes, constructing and deconstructing plates or repairing souls. But 108 is definitely not designed to be a oneoff; Luca and Chris have already earmarked a laundry in New York, a hardware store in LA and a drugstore in Miami as part of their plans for a global concept.

An eternal dreamer – as well as entrepreneur and author – Luca was also the man who found himself branded “The Mafia’s Banker” and on Interpol’s most wanted list, when as a top Wall Street financier, he was arrested in Brazil as part of a crackdown on international banks. Wholly exonerated, it did not stop him spending 30 days in one of South America’s most notorious jails. After writing a number one best-seller (soon to become a Hollywood film), he decided to abandon the world of finance and reinvent himself and his career around what has always been an obsession, food.

Searching for a partner who shared his passion, Luca placed an ad on Gumtree. Intrigued in turn by someone looking for a chef “ready to sail on a new adventure in Notting Hill,” was Chris Denney. A highly experienced chef, utterly focused and dedicated to creating sensational food, Chris has worked with some of the world’s best chefs, John Campbell, Eric Chavot, David Thompson, Phil Howard and Enrico Crippa among them, and was now looking for a fresh challenge.

The two met and shared their life story. Both had left home with no money – Chris to become a chef and Luca a banker – and recognising kindred spirits, realised they could collaborate on the creation of something new and exciting.

Together Luca and Chris have built 108 Garage from scratch. With plans now underway to document their story via a TV series called “The Garage”, their journey has only just begun.

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