5 Minutes with Jose Pizarro

The God-father of Spanish cooking answers our questions on his new book Catalonia, his childhood food memories and what he'll be having for Christmas dinner

28 Nov 2017 |


We grabbed five minutes to chat to the 'godfather of spanish cooking' Jose Pizarro and asked him about the inspiration behind his latest book Catalonia and what he'll be eating for Christmas lunch (we get the feeling he doesn't like turkey!).

We've also included a recipe to Jose's delicious Bermondsey Bomb recipe at the end of the Q&A.

What inspired you to write Catalonia

The region. Of course the food, the people, and the landscape. Everything. Everything because Catalonia is just a really wonderful part of the world. Mainly it was the people

What was the part of making Catalonia?

Research. Research means eating and drinking a lot. And meeting amazing, amazing people . People just open the door for you and give to you these recipes that have been in their family’s for many years, which is beautiful.

Do you have a favourite recipe from the book? 

(Laughs) No! The thing is for this book we had 120 recipes and we needed to cut down to something more like 80, which was really difficult. But that means that all the recipes in the book really mean something to me because they all bring good memories.

Who are your food influences ?

I have so many people but I really admire the food writer Claudia Rodham; she has always inspired me. There are so many fellow chefs who have been supportive and we cook together. There are so, so many who are a part of my career who’ve brought me to what I am now in this beautiful role.

What are your strongest food memories?

I will always remember my grandmother cooking partridge for Christmas. Another food memory I’ll always remember is the farm that was next to mine when I was a child and running to drinking milk straight from the cow; that is an amazing memory. And waking up in the morning with the smell of churros when my mum was making me churros for me before I went to school..nice memories. 

What ingredient couldn’t you live without?

I can’t live without olive oil, pimento, a good vinegar, saffron and eggs (which are very convenient for when you get home and you don’t want to cook a meal) ..these ingredients are the base of the Spanish cuisine.

Tell us about your day in food…what kind of things do you eat during a normal working day?

Breakfast – I try to eat nice and I have to have porridge, but it doesn’t happen very often. So  it’s coffee and go!

Lunch – whatever we’re having at the restaurant before opening with the team..today it’s lentils.

Dinner – anything I can get after service. Sometimes when you’re working you forget to eat during the whole day. That is quite sad, but it is true.

Have you seen your books anywhere unexpected?

Many of my friends contact me to say “I saw your book here!” That is really nice. Many friends have sent me pictures of my book from all over the world, including Japan and America, which makes me very emotional. I ask “how can my book be there!” It’s so exciting and makes me very happy!

What would you like to write about next?

My area in Spain, my region Extremadura, where I come from.

What are you doing for Christmas?

I go back to Spain where we eat partridge, it’s about baby goat, croquettas, very traditional in my family, big fish cooked in the oven…no turkey for sure! I’m heading to Germany for New Year’s eve; I don’t know what to expect but I’m really looking forward to that. The best thing about Christmas is it is a time of year when everyone can get together and every tries to be good, but that should be how it is the whole year. Everyday we should behave like it is Christmas with everyone having nice thoughts (but no turkey!).


Bermondsey Bomb

"La bomba de la Barceloneta is one of the most popular tapas in Barcelona. It’s a big fried ball made with mashed potato and normally stuffed with spicy carrots or meat.

I’m not sure if it’s true, but La Cova Fumada is renowned as the birthplace of this dish. It is definitely worth a visit – it’s a lovely old-fashioned bar serving great food. Enjoy a vermut with your bomba – they cook a stunning local version with prawns and octopus, it’s very tasty.

La Barceloneta was badly destroyed during the civil war, as was the area in London where I have two of my restaurants, Bermondsey. We’ve used a little bit of irony here, and called this dish the ‘Bermondsey Bomb’ as it appears on my menu." - Jose Pizarro, Catalonia

Makes 6

1 kg (2 lb 3 oz) desiree potatoes

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

4 tablespoons olive oil

2 onions, finely chopped

1 large garlic clove, finely chopped

2 good pinches of chilli flakes

400 g (14 oz) tin tomatoes

160 g (5 ½ oz) minced (ground) pork

75 g (2 ½  oz/scant ⅔ cup) plain (all-purpose) flour

2 free-range eggs, beaten

100 g (3 ½ oz/1 cup) dry breadcrumbs

olive oil for deep-frying

1 quantity alioli to serve


For the full recipe go to Cooked.com


Catalonia by Jose Pizarro is available now from good shops that sell books and online from Amazon and Waterstones

Photography by Laura Edwards