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Food hype in the UK often revolves around the capital, but when Peter and Jonray Sanchez-Iglesias brought Casamia into the public consciousness in 2009, they did so from the quaint Bristol suburbs of Westbury-on-Trym. Casamia had started life as a neighbourhood trattoria - founded by their father Paco - but just over a decade on, the two brothers had turned it into an progressive, fine dining powerhouse. Even more incredible, much of their cooking was self-taught, and absorbed from whatever cookbooks they could lay their hands on. 'Our first book was Gordon Ramsay Secrets,' says Peter. 'We just kept flicking through and taking inspiration from it. Then we got the French Laundry book, and the El Bulli book for Christmas.'
Fed on cookbooks and powered by unbridled youthful determination, the pair made Casamia into, legitimately, one of the best restaurants in the country - a fixture in top ten lists, and a darling of the 'there are good restaurants outside London' crowd. Casamia maintained that reputation until it sadly closed in 2022 - a casualty of Coronavirus and the subsequent cost of living crisis.
By then, though, Peter had other restaurants to think about. The Sanchez family opened Paco Tapas in 2016, and Peter was also approached by American hotelier and businessman Andre Balazs to collaborate on a restaurant at the top of The Standard Hotel in King's Cross, which became Decimo. 'At the time we were turning down a lot of offers, but as soon as I came and stood in this space, I was like, “hell yeah”. I knew it was going to happen,’ says Peter. ‘It was the perfect situation for us, because you have the infrastructure behind you with the hotel, but it’s a standalone restaurant.’
Jonray sadly passed away in 2015 after a long battle with cancer, but Peter and his family continue to be a constant presence in the restaurants, both front and back of house. 'When Jonray first came into the kitchen with me, he questioned everything,' says Peter. 'That was really influential for me. That's where we started to build our knowledge and our creativity, and we just kept pushing things forward.'