You originally studied dentistry before becoming a chef. What prompted the career change?
The thing is, I was a dental technician but I grew up on a farm in Andalusia – my dad was a farmer – so I always had a love of food and I was always in contact with ingredients. When I was finished my dentistry studies I was waiting to start a job in Seville and there was an advertisement for cooking classes. I thought to myself, “Why not?” I am always the type of person who has to be doing something. I did the course and I never looked back. I never considered dentistry again.
What do you love most about being a chef?
Relating to people. Because cooking is not just ingredients – it’s people too, and how they feel and react to food. I love interacting with people.
Why did you decide to move to the UK?
I moved to London 16 years ago – I don’t know where the time has gone. I just wanted to see something else, maybe it’s in my name – I share the same last name as the conquistador Francisco Pizarro [laughs]. Someone told me it was a very good thing to be in the UK as there are not many Spanish chefs at the time. So I moved to London, which is now home for me.
What do you think of the food scene in London?
It’s unbelievable – you have so many places to eat at, it is difficult to even lock in a top five. When I left Spain, there wasn’t much variety in my home country, then when I went to London I was amazed. There are so many options: Italian, Chinese – cuisine from all over the world.
You were in Dubai for the Taste of Dubai festival. What did you think of the city?
I love Dubai – I have to come back. There is so much going on. I would consider opening a restaurant there. Some of my friends have restaurants there and they love it. Dubai, New York, London and Hong Kong – these are the places to be.
Spanish cuisine is experiencing something of a renaissance. What do people love about it so much?
We Spanish are so lucky – we have so many great chefs and so much creativity. But you have that with very simple flavours and ingredients, which is why the popularity of Spanish cuisine is growing.
Do you get to travel a lot?
I try to travel a lot, because I love to travel. It’s difficult with all my restaurants. I have another opening this month in London in Liverpool Street and another one near my original restaurant. But when I can, I like to go away for the weekend. I like Wales in particular, though it doesn’t matter where, really, I just like to escape to somewhere.
Any food scene that surprised you?
Everywhere I go, the food surprises me, really. I did love Bangkok, which I went to last year and the food was delicious. I ate insects. You have to try them if you’re in Thailand.
So that’s your top travel tip?
Yes – you have to try everything. It’s the only way to get a full sense of the local cuisine in a country.
Where are you going next?
Someone told me to go to Qatar. But the only thing I have locked in is a trip to Spain in August for ten days with my family – cooking and eating the whole time. I will also go to Ibiza for a few days for a food event. And then, when it is less hot, I will come back to Dubai.