Dentistry or food? Yes, believe it or not, Spanish chef, José Pizarro considered both career paths, but thankfully his love of food was just too strong and he had no choice but to leave his passion for dentistry at the kitchen door.
Originally from Cáceres, José, has now lived in London since 2000 and is often described as the Godfather of Spanish cooking in the UK, a decision that many Londoners have become extremely grateful for.In that time, he has worked at some of London’s most prestigious Spanish restaurants including Eyre Brothers, Brindisa and Gaudi. In 2011, Londoners were delighted when José opened his first solo venture, José Tapas Bar on Bermondsey Street, and has since gone on to open two further restaurants in the Capital: Pizarro, just a few yards from José Tapas, and José Pizarro at Broadgate Circle.
For anyone lucky enough to have had the pleasure of chatting to José in one of his restaurants, it won’t come as a shock to hear that he is also a popular face on TV too. A regular on BBC 1’s Saturday Kitchen, José has also appeared on Sunday Brunch, Weekend Kitchen with Waitrose, Rick Stein’s Christmas and The Food Network’s, The Big Eat. Most recently he was part of the debut series of The Wine Show, where he championed two of his favourite things, sherry & clams!
José’s talents don’t end there though – his first three books, Seasonal Spanish Food (Kyle Books, 2009), Spanish Flavours (Kyle Books, 2012) and Basque (Hardie Grant, 2016) launched to great critical acclaim. His latest work, Catalonia, has been published in October 2017 – a marvellous journey showing off the amazing food of this region. As they say, it’s a feast for the eyes as well as the senses!
In May 2014 José was voted one of ‘100 españoles’ – a hugely prestigious award which showcases the top 100 Spaniards around the world, based on how they have brought their talents to the masses and how they have shown their Spanish pride and love of the country through their work.
José loves nothing more than flying the flag for his homeland, so this award was particularly close to his heart.
José is a regular on the food festival scene, and was most recently found at the stoves at some of his favourite events, including The Big Feastival, Taste of London, Meatopia, Aldeburgh & Padstow. José believes that tapas is for all, and that home cooks don’t have to be scared off by the idea of cooking lots of dishes – it’s all in the prep & keeping it simple. His stage demonstrations are full of gorgeous anecdotes of growing up in Spain, how his Mum wouldn’t let him near the kitchen and his experiences of being a Spanish chef in London.