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Spanish chef José Pizarro, co-founder and former executive chef of Tapas Brindisa, is preparing to launch his first solo venture on nearby Bermondsey Street in April. Called José, the newcomer will be inspired by the tapas joints of Barcelona’s bustling Boquería market in style and decor, with limited, informal seating and a focus on the freshest ingredients.
‘There’s always going to be a menu,’ Pizarro says, ‘but it will be more about the chef and waiter explaining to you what they have on each day. I’ll be going to the market every day and my suppliers will call me the evening before to tell me what they’ve got.’
The menu will change daily but will stick to simple and traditional tapas, such as razor clams a la plancha, top-quality serrano ham and tortilla. Sherry, meanwhile, will be a speciality of the wine list.
‘While some people are starting to become interested in sherries and want to try them, it’s still a drink that many people don’t get – it makes them think of their granny,’ explains the chef. ‘They need to understand how beautiful sherry can be, and how huge the range is. I think sherry will become very fashionable.’
This is the first time Pizarro (pictured, above) will be running his own restaurant, something he’s been planning for more than a year. He told Square Meal he’s excited about the prospect, if a little nervous.
‘It’s scary, because when I left Brindisa I was leaving a business that was doing well – now I’m starting again!’ he said. ‘But I’m very happy. It’s my big project with my name. I’m going to do my best.
‘I’m really happy with how it’s coming along after waiting so long. I need to go back to the thing I love – it’s cooking. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.’
2011 should be a busy year for the Spanish chef, who is also planning to open a more formal restaurant, called Pizarro, in the same area in late summer or early autumn.
By Nicky Evans, News and Online Editor