Four reigning Spanish chefs in London
The culinary offerings in London are as numerous as they are award-winning. The city has 79 Michelin stars, the second highest number in Europe, and among the multitude of cuisines available in this cosmopolitan city, Spanish gastronomy has a demanding yet unpretentious following. Here, we present four great Spanish chefs who have conquered the palates of Londoners.
1 The most internationally famous Basque chef
The heart of London’s West End is as good a place as any to enjoy a glass of spirit-lifting Basque txakolí. The chef Eneko Atxa – whose three Michelin stars allow him to bring great ideas (and even better recipes) to fruition – must have known this when he opened his restaurant Eneko there. The cauliflower is tender and creamy and the squid, which is served in its own ink (don’t worry, it’s not sourced from the Thames), melts like butter in the mouth. The sparse venue helps diners not feel so bad about overindulging in the Basque country’s wine par excellence.
2 A master of the kitchen with roots
José Pizarro comes from the land of the conquistadors. This Cáceres-born chef has been based in London since the late 1990s, when he moved there to improve his English. Almost two decades later, it’s clear that, while his English is certainly very good, the thing he’s really mastered is cooking. Acclaimed by public and critics alike, he’s published four books and starred in TV programmes on Channel 4 and the BBC. If you’re visiting his Bermondsey location in south London, we recommend the Roman-style hake with lentils in green sauce (which you might have caught him preparing live on BBC One’s Saturday Kitchen). His restaurants, José Tapas Bar and the more formal Pizarro, have been voted among the best Spanish restaurants of the year by several publications.
3 David Muñoz’s neon-lit eatery
“I come for dinner on Sunday because sometimes you can run into David,” confesses Brenda, a fan of StreetXO, who is sitting under the neon lights that make up the eclectic decor of this Mayfair restaurant. Behind the bar, which features decidedly Asian-inspired dishes, including kimchi croquettes and Galician-style grilled octopus with yuzu sauce, it is indeed possible to see David Muñoz in the open-plan kitchen. The chef usually comes on Sunday so he can train the cooks in his first London outpost on Mondays.
4 Putting Asturias on the map
Many must have thought chef Nacho Manzano was taking a big risk back in 2008 – during the maelstrom of the global financial crisis – when he decided to introduce then-unknown dishes like fabada or rice with “pitu de caleya” (free-range chickens) to Londoners. Almost ten years later and with eight restaurants under his belt (five in London, and others in Manchester, Leeds and Glasgow), the enthusiasm Manzano has generated for “pitu chicken rice” confirms that Asturian cuisine is now not only accepted, but that it has earned pride of place among London’s tapas restaurants.