Flash-grilled: Monika Linton

By Georgia Bronte

- Last updated on GMT

Flash-grilled: Monika Linton

Related tags People Tapas

Monika Linton founded Brindisa, one of the capital's most loved Spanish food shops, in the 1980s. Now comprising five tapas restaurants and shops, the group is regarded as one of the most knowledgeable authorities on Spanish food in the UK.

What was your first job?
Hop picking in Goudhurst Kent for the Coleman family. I became a good tractor driver with a trailer and crows nest and I didn’t break a single hop pole!

What is your guiltiest food pleasure?  
Empiñonadas - almond marzipan rounds coated with pine nuts - I can eat these by the tray. 

What's the best restaurant meal you've ever had
Lunch at Paco Gandía in Pinoso, Alicante. it was golden rice with rabbit and snails - absolute heaven.

What industry figure do you most admire, and why? 
Darina Allen for the fearlessness, gentleness, generosity and happiness with which she, the late Myrtle Allen and all her family have evolved Ballymaloe and it’s food culture. 

If you weren't in restaurants, what would you do? 
I would be teaching literacy and languages to young children

What is your biggest regret?
Not having studied business management formally earlier. 

Pet hate in the dining room?
Mobile phones. We are forgetting how to chat person to person. 

What's the oddest thing a customer has said to you?
One of our Spanish suppliers ate at Tapas Brindisa London Bridge and said our tapas was better than many he’d had in Spain! We were quite star-struck, what a compliment!

What's the restaurant concept you wish you'd thought of?
Eating bars such as L’Atelier of the late Joël Robuchon based on Nou Manolín of Alicante. 

Describe your service style in three words
Friendly informed and attentive

Most overrated food?

Restaurant dictator for a day - what would you ban?

What's the worst review you've ever had?
One in which we were accused of over pricing anchovies - there are anchovies and anchovies just as there are wines and wines. 

If you could serve anyone in the world who would you pick, and why?
Pierre Koffmann - he was one my earliest customers. He loved our Spanish products so much he bought them to enjoy at home because he could only serve Gascony dishes in his restaurant La Tante Claire. 

What advice would you give someone starting out in the industry?
Make sure you have the best operational and financial partner you can find before you even start to get creative. 

What do you cook at home on your days off?
Lots of grain and pulse dishes - all in one salads, pilaffs or soupy stews depending on the season 

What's your earliest food memory? 
Banana lolly pops at the Ikoyi swimming pool in Lagos. 

What's the best piece of advice you've ever been given?
Never compromise on the quality of your food at Brindisa, stick to your niche - Tim Lang of Food Policy, Centre for Food Policy, City, University of London.

What's the closest you've ever come to death?
Misjudging a curve in the road in Catalonia so that we literally flew and landed in the middle of a field. Luckily there was no telegraph pool or building in our way. 

Where do you go when you want to let your hair down?
Menorca where I can disconnect from the big wide world and do very little. 

Tipple of choice?
Gin and tonic in all its guises

What would you choose to eat for your last meal?
A really excellent Spanish rice dish such as the rabbit and tuna meloso we shared with family and friends last Saturday. 


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