> Features

Festive Taste of London 2015: José Pizarro

Festive Taste of London 2015: José Pizarro

by Felicity Spector 28 October 2015

Felicity spoke to Spanish chef and tapas legend, José Pizarro, before his upcoming appearance at the Festive Edition of Taste of London this winter – a fantastic opportunity for him to share his passion for authentic Spanish cuisine.

Felicity Spector has worked in national television journalism for nearly thirty years, but has now combined her day job with an increasing interest in food writing in her spare time.

José Pizarro has to be one of the most enthusiastic, energetic people in food – his restaurants in Bermondsey and Broadgate are always buzzing, packed to the rafters with people enjoying plates of fritters, jamon, grilled octopus and chocolate on toast.

At this summer's Taste of London there were constant queues for his food: the torrejas in sticky orange caramel sauce were the stuff of legend. This winter, with three busy restaurants to run, he's not able to bring the whole team – but José told me he was desperate not to miss out altogether. ‘I love the Taste of London event so much! I said to them, please, I can't be there for the whole show, but I can do a cooking demonstration – it's going to be great!’

He'll be on the main stage showcasing his take on duck breast, with pumpkin and a sherry sauce with pine nuts and raisins – all the flavours of a Spanish Christmas. ‘I wanted to demonstrate a dish which people can make themselves, and really, duck is so easy to cook, easier than chicken.’

There'll be no cheffy techniques, then: ‘I'm not making a lentil foam or anything like that! This really is as simple as those pre-cooked dishes you see in the supermarket. And duck is easy to find nowadays, you can get it in most big shops and your local butcher.’

José has been one of the pioneers of truly modern Spanish food, and he's been proud to showcase it to a wider public. ‘When I arrived in this country fifteen years ago, no-one really knew anything about it. If they saw jamon Iberico they thought it must be Parma ham. It's so healthy and quick to make at home, and nowadays you can get all sorts of ingredients, different kinds of paprika, good quality tuna – even in a local corner shop.’

It's made Britons more adventurous when they go abroad, he says – happy that people are now more likely to seek out authentic local food, and try to understand the real Spanish culture.

His own restaurants are testimony to that spirit of adventure and discovery: ‘We find people are really keen to try new things; they seem to like what we do which makes us happy too!’

The crowds of people at Taste of London and the chance to meet people who are tasting his food for the first time are a real bonus, he says: ‘It's so nice to meet those people who can't get to the restaurants, but who still want to come try the food, and have a chat. It's all about the hospitality, the customer is just like a guest in my own house.’

In fact, he declares, that's one of the best parts of his job. ‘When things are going well, it keeps you going, and you work even harder. And that's what's important – enjoying what you do.’

And he's sharing that enjoyment too... one glorious tapas dish at a time.

 
 
 

Want our most popular features delivered to your inbox?

Sign up to our newsletter now and we'll send you a hand-picked round-up of the best features and recipes from across Great British Chefs each week.

Thanks for subscribing

We'll only contact you around once per week with our best features and seasonal recipes. You can unsubscribe at any time.

 

Comments ()

Festive Taste of London 2015: José Pizarro

 
Order by
...   ...

(Editing)

>

This comment was edited

Please enter text

Comments must be less than characters

This comment has been deleted

Report this comment

Please state your report in the space below

Please enter text

Reports must be less than 750 characters

loading

>

Please enter text

Comments must be less than characters

(Editing)

>

This comment was edited

Please enter text

Comments must be less than characters

This comment has been deleted

Report this comment

Please state your report in the space below

Please enter text

Reports must be less than 750 characters

loading

>

Please enter text

Comments must be less than characters

Be the first to leave a comment on this page...
...   ...