Jonray Sanchez-Iglesias was training as a graphic designer and helping out at the front of house of his family’s Bristol trattoria when the restaurant’s head chef walked out. Together with his younger brother Pete, they threw themselves in at the deep end and, 12 years and a Michelin star later, Casamia is a vital part of Bristol’s food scene. Flavour caught up with Jonray to put him through our Ten Question challenge.
1. Where do you eat out?
I don’t get much spare time to try new places, so it’s normally when Pete and I are on holiday with our wives that we get the chance to visit restaurants. We both love cooking at home but sometimes we’ll eat locally in Portishead, where we live, like the local Italian, Antonio’s, or we’ll get a takeaway. Generally if we go out for a special occasion we’ll travel so we see what other people are doing and mix work with pleasure. I absolutely love Sat Bains’ food at his restaurant in Nottingham. He’s an incredible role model too.
2. What’s your favourite cookbook and why?
My favourite cookbook is The French Laundry Cookbook by Thomas Keller. It’s beautifully written and an absolute classic.
3. What ingredients do you always have to hand?
Good butter, Cornish salt, and a really good extra virgin olive oil. We use rapeseed oil at the restaurant but at home there’s nothing wrong with having a good olive oil.
4. What is your favourite food shop?
We love Ruby and White. in Bristol. Those guys are doing an amazing job and sell some amazing meat as well as having a great deli. They’re very nice people with a very nice operation.
5. What is your favourite food destination?
It’s too hard to choose! Italy, Spain, France… Though we grew up with food, we had never experienced proper French food before going to France. It had always been done so badly where we’d been that we never understood what the fuss was. And we couldn’t afford to travel beyond Bristol to find out! But eating Michel Roux Jr’s cooking completely changed our perspective. He made us realise how incredible French food is, so maybe now I’d have to say the Champagne region, or Paris. But then we’re always blown away by what people are doing in this country. We struggle with the weather much more than European chefs but are able to cherish the produce we have in the summer and still make something good in the winter. Our heart is in Britain.
6. Do you have a particular food obsession at the moment?
Peter, and I’m with him on this, is obsessed with Asian food and we both keep cooking it at home. It’s lovely to eat and the dishes are constructed in quite a simple way. All you need are fresh ingredients and spices. Atul Kochhar’s cooking is great and I’ve spent some time talking with him to find out more. I love new things and it’s exciting to discover Indian food beyond the Peshwari naan!
7. Are there any chefs you are currently excited about?
We are very lucky because we’ve met lots of the guys working in the UK. Even though we’ve been cooking a long time we’re still young, but we get so much respect. In September we’re working with Alyn Williams as part of CHEFStock. He’s someone we admired and wanted to meet. When we were asked to chef in his kitchen with him at the Westbury, we said yes straightaway. It’s an innovative and fun event and we’re excited to work as part of a team with someone of such a high calibre.
8. Is there anything you never cook?
We pretty much cook anything. We’re quite experimental. Pete hates liquorice, so we’d probably not cook with that. And I’m not a fan of cheap basic supermarket coriander.
9. Can you give us a cooking tip?
Always use a temperature probe, even though Heston [Blumenthal] said you don’t need one for cooking at home! At the end of the day, ovens can be inconsistent. We use a probe to get our meat perfect. It makes life a lot easier and you can use it to check the temperature for Yorkshire puddings or for your everyday joint of beef and know that it’s cooked and will taste good.
10. Do you grow anything yourself?
I’ve grown lots of herbs this year, things like rosemary and sage. At the moment there’s not much going on in my garden but I’ve got the manure down composting, ready to put all the herbs and vegetables in for next year.
See this feature as it originally appeared on Flavour