Flash-grilled: Javi Blanco

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

Flash-grilled with Eneko Basque Kitchen & Bar head chef Javi Blanco

Related tags: London, Restaurant, Hotel

Javi Blanco is head chef at Eneko Atxa's Eneko Basque Kitchen & Bar in London's One Aldwych hotel.

What was your first job?
I worked a receptionist in a hotel in Walt Disney World in Orlando FL, USA.

What is your guiltiest food pleasure?  
I can eat 1kg of M&M’s in the blink of an eye…

What’s the best restaurant meal you’ve ever had?
Chef Angel Leon’s Restaurant Aponiente, because saying Azurmendi by Eneko Atxa would be a bit too obvious.

What industry figure do you most admire, and why? 
Diego Guerrero was my mentor in Spain, he taught me a lot from the beginning. In the UK, Phil Howard for the way he treats produce and the flavour of his food.

If you weren’t in kitchens, what would you do? 
I would most likely work in front of house, as I love hospitality. If not I would be a physiotherapist.

What is your biggest regret?
Luckily I don’t have any!

Pet hate in the kitchen?
I cannot stand disorganisation or mess. Minimalism is the key.

What’s the oddest thing a customer has said to you?
Is the butter dairy free?

What’s the dish you wish you’d thought of?
Beef Wellington, in my opinion it has everything to succeed.

Describe your cooking style in three words
Multicultural, authentic, and flavourful.

Most overrated food?
Dragon fruit; it doesn’t have any taste, but it looks beautiful and at least is full of nutrients – we have to give it that.

Restaurant dictator for a day – what would you ban?
I would ban not having work-life balance when working in hospitality. 

What’s the worst review you’ve ever had?
We had a guest who complained to me about our steamed milk bread, because it wasn’t as fluffy as his grandmother’s brioche bun…

If you could cook for anyone in the world who would you pick, and why?
My grandparents, because I never had the chance to do it, and they are an important part of my culinary heritage.

What advice would you give someone starting out in the industry?
Work hard, be humble, learn every day and don’t give up because you have the best job in the world.

Which single item of kitchen equipment could you not live without?
During service, while I am on the pass, I would say the timer. The difference between making something good or something bad can be just a matter of seconds

What do you cook at home on your days off?
I love cooking Mexican, Asian and of course Spanish food for my wife and friends.

What’s your earliest food memory? 
I remember the meatballs from my nursery when I was two years old, they were delicious and their smell used to fill the room. Nowadays when I smell something similar, it still takes me back to that place.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
To treat the product with the respect that it deserves and make the most out of it.

What’s the closest you’ve ever come to death?

Where do you go when you want to let your hair down?
Back home with my friends, we’ve been together our whole lives. 

Tipple of choice?
Beer or negroni

What would you choose to eat for your last meal?
Arroz a la Cubana, either cooked by my mother or myself.

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