Fash-grilled: Yahir Gonzalez

By JamesMcAllister

- Last updated on GMT

Yahir Gonzalez head chef at Mexican restaurant Zapote in Shoreditch

Related tags Yahir Gonzalez Zapote Restaurant London Mexican cuisine

The head chef at modern Mexican restaurant Zapote in Shoreditch on his dislike of truffle oil, a love of mole and Pokemon toasties.

What was your first industry job?
A trainee sushi chef in Mexico City at the age of 16.

If you weren’t in kitchens, what would you do?
I have always wanted to be in the kitchen.

What industry figure do you most admire, and why?
Anthony Bourdain. I have always admired him, his cooking, his passion.

What’s your pet hate in the kitchen?

What’s the oddest thing a customer has said to you?
Where is the bathroom?

Sum up your cooking style in a single sentence…
Contemporary Mexican.

What’s the worst review you’ve ever had?
I had a complaint about a chicken dish being too “fishy” – it was turbot.

What advice would you give someone starting out in the industry?
Pay attention to everything going on around you, learn from everyone and work hard.

Which single item of kitchen equipment could you not live without?
A sharp knife.

What would you choose to eat for your last meal?
Taco el Pastor.

À la carte or tasting menu?
A la carte.

What’s the best meal you’ve ever had in a restaurant?
The confit suckling pig head at La Tasqueria in Madrid.

What’s your favourite fast food joint?
Yard Sale Pizza.

What’s the dish you wish you’d thought of?

MasterChef or Great British Menu?
Great British Menu.

What’s the most overrated food?

You’re restaurant dictator for a day – what would you ban?
Truffle oil.

Who would your dream dinner party guests be?
My grandfather as he never got to try my cooking.

What’s your earliest food memory?
Corn tortillas and frijoles at the age of four.

Twitter or Instagram?

What’s the closest you’ve ever come to death?
A car crash or two in Mexico city.

Where do you go when you want to let your hair down?
Queens Park market on a Sunday afternoon to choose what to have for a late lunch while having a buck star beer from one of the stallholders (my party days are long behind me).

What’s your tipple of choice?
A cold pint of lager and the occasional tequila.

What’s your favourite food and drink pairing?
Cheese, ham, jalepeno pepper Pokemon toastie with a mezcal (the Pokemon toastie maker was a gift for my son).

What do you consider to be your signature dish?     ​       
Grilled octopus, glazed pasilla chilli with pipian verde and homemade tortillas.

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