Having gone on about how awesome Jose Pizarro is, I thought I may as well put my money where my mouth is and got my people to contact his people. After lengthy negotiations and hardball tactics, Chef Pizarro cleared his busy schedule and answered a few questions for me!
Yeah, OK, not much negotiating took place, in fact Hannah at Nourish PR was absolutely delightful. Take it away:
Thank you, Jose for taking the time to answer my questions. I am a huge fan of Spanish food and drink (you and your food especially!) and have lots to ask. SO ..!
Why did you move to UK? It couldn’t have been the weather!
The Pizarros of Extremadura are conquistadores. Francisco Pizarro set sail for the New World in 1509, before cheap flights were available. He probably did this because it is too bloody hot in Spain. It’s great if you are on holiday, but not if you are standing next to a grill.
How do you divide your time between UK and Spain?
I try to go there as much as I can. At least every 3 months I love to spend a week or so there with family and doing research.
Where are the best Spanish restaurants to eat in UK?
Mine obviously! Seriously, there are so many good Spanish restaurants here now. I like Barrafina. I like Ibérica. The Cambio de Tercio group. There’s a lot of good Spanish food around.
How much of your produce is imported?
30% comes from Spain. I try to source as locally as possible and cook it Spanish style.
Are there plans for a third restaurant/bar?
I always have projects and concepts for new projects on the go and in my mind.
I have your ‘Seasonal Spanish Food’ and ‘Spanish Flavours’ books. Did you start with the concept (seasons and geographical areas) first?
Yes. I think seasonal and local are important.
How do you know what recipes to include and what to leave out?
Very very difficult. I have more than 2000 recipes. You know when you see it all together.
Would you consider a book of Spanish desserts?
Certainly. We have really lovely desserts and sweets dating back to roman times.
During a trip to San Sebastian I discovered the greatness of pintxos and I’m very happy to see some pintxos bars opening in London. Is this an area of cooking you have experience in?
Not really. I do it for catering only.
If I cooked just one recipe from any of your books, which one should it be?
My Mum’s kid stew from Seasonal Spanish food.
I loved the Rick Stein in Spain series and spotted you in there somewhere! Have you ever been approached to have your own TV show?
I’m working on it!
Can you be a chef and a TV star?
I wouldn’t know – I’m not a TV star. A few people out there are able to find a good balance.
Do you think having a TV show diminishes your reputation as a serious chef?
Not at all. You are showing what you do and what inspires you.
Which British chefs do you admire?
Too many. I love Angela Harnett, Rick Stein, Jeremy Lee, Ashley Palmer-Watts , Gordon Ramsay….Gordon is a seriously good chef. I was recently at Tom Sellers’s new restaurant – his food is great. And there are so many more I could mention.
Who are the up and coming Spanish chefs to look out for?
In the UK, Nieves Barragan at Barrafina.
I attended your cookery demonstration with Claudia Roden at the Jewish Museum last year which was great fun. What’s the strangest invitation you’ve had?
I always get interesting invitations – nothing weird.
I love white Rioja and have recently discovered sherry – what sherry do you recommend for medium, fruity flavour (Oloroso – preferably from Fernando de Castilla – my favourite producer right now) and which is the best of the finos (Fernando de Castilla’s Antique Fino)?
Is there a preferred kind of sherry when eating cheese?
For me Amontillado.
Do you need a recipe taster?
Always, I need to have my friends around 😉
Do you have a passion or hobby away from food that people would be surprised at?
Glassblowing. OK – it’s not my hobby yet, but it will be. And growing orchids. And roses. Don’t get me started!
Thanks again and I hope to eat at your glorious restaurant again very soon!!
You’re welcome. Thank you for asking and come back soon!
Well, that was fun, more Q&A’s in the future I reckon. I’ll get my thinking cap on and see who we can rustle up next 🙂