What was your first industry job?
When I was 16 in Colombia, I began culinary school. I got a job at El Artista, a tasting menu restaurant run by an English chef. Every week, the restaurant would exhibit a different artist and we would create a menu to ‘pair’ with the art.
If you weren’t in kitchens, what would you do?
A wildlife photographer.
What industry figure do you most admire, and why?
There are so many incredible people doing amazing things in our industry and I admire so many of them. If I had to choose one, it would probably be Leonor Espinosa from Leo. Her 15 years of research on Colombian products and the country’s heritage has elevated Colombian gastronomy and put Colombia on the map as a respected food destination.
What’s your pet hate in the kitchen?
Sum up your cooking style in a single sentence…
What’s the worst review you’ve ever had?
I can think of a few! You have to accept that your philosophy and concept won’t be for everyone but that shouldn’t stop you from following your vision.
What advice would you give someone starting out in the industry?
Put your head down and stay focused. Don’t think about your role or money, that comes with time and hard work. Learn as much as you can from everyone around you, there is something to learn from every experience. Always be kind and respectful.
Which single item of kitchen equipment could you not live without?
A sharp knife.
What would you choose to eat for your last meal?
Sushi from Endo Kazutoshi; arepas from my grandmother; Cantonese fried rice; fried chicken; pork tacos; and lots of ice cream.
What’s the best meal you’ve ever had in a restaurant?
The first time I ate Endo Kazutoshi's sushi in Hong Kong - it was memorable and truly inspirational.
What’s your favourite fast food joint?
That would have to be Tacos Don Juan in Mexico City, and Tommi’s Burger Joint here in London.
What’s the dish you wish you’d thought of?
Pineapple and ants from Alex Atala - the dish is so simple, but has such a rich story.
What’s the most overrated food?
Baked beans! I’ve been in London 11 years now and I still can’t understand it!
What’s your earliest food memory?
It was on my family farm in Colombia. My great aunt made scrambled eggs for me, when I asked for more she told me she would teach me how to make them instead.
Where do you go when you want to let your hair down?
I love dancing and music, so anywhere where there is a good DJ.
What’s your tipple of choice?
Mezcal or Sake
What do you consider to be your signature dish?
Our menu at HUMO and Abajo is constantly evolving, but based on the feedback of the guests we have some strong contenders. For example, the hand dived Orkney scallop cooked directly on top of a French oak whiskey barrel that has been ‘marinated’ for around 50 years and topped with white kombu shiraita, kinome and a sabayon made with whiskey.