Can you tell me a bit about Decimo and what we can expect from it?
I first saw the Highline in New York about eight years ago I loved the vibe and energy of it. When this project came around I knew I’d love to be a part of it and it worked out perfectly when they approached me. Then when I saw the visuals and graphics of what the room was going to be like I had to think about what kind of cuisine we were going to put in the room. I did a trip about six years ago to Mexico, a kind of government exchange where I was shown Mexican food and culture. A chef called Diego Hernández from a restaurant called Corazón de Tierra called me up and asked whether I wanted to go to Mexico and spend some time with him and then he’d come and spend some time with me at Casamia, my restaurant in Bristol. We were blown away by the food in Mexico, literally blown away; the texture, everything about it is in insane. So we decided to combine the Spanish cuisine with touches of Mexican and South American cuisine. We only use limes, for example, not lemons and we have touches of chillis going into sauces. We have a Caeser salad because I discovered that it was invented in Tijuana.
Within the dining room of Decimo there are different sections where you can have little mini experiences that change each time you go there so we wanted to do the same with the menu. There are about 45-50 different elements on the menu so that people who are staying at the hotel for four or five days can experience something different each time they come back. The main thing about the restaurant is the experience, the ambience: we wanted it to be fun. The food should be like that: a mix of quick and simple things, some creative touches and a good balance between not being too foodie and almost feeling quite homely in a sense.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
It’s probably from my dad. In the old days of Casamia he said: ‘You have to do things slowly. Not everything can be achieved overnight; you have to give it time.’ I think that is amazing advice and it works with all aspects of life: to be patient and calm, to do things step by step.
Do you have a role model?
I don’t have a role model but I think I’m quite fortunate in this business to have a lot of friends who are there to support me. People like Brad Carter, Gareth Ward, Michael O’Hare and Tom Brown: we all share the same passion and direction. I take advice from them, they are people I look up to, who inspire me to do better.
What’s your favourite restaurant in London?
I have quite a few – one of my favourite meals was at Araki, the Japanese place in Mayfair. I love Core, Clare Smyth’s place. It’s a great place to just go and chill and enjoy excellent food and service. It’s really lovely. I love the Smoking Goat and I love Thai food. I am still yet to find the small, secret, unheard of Thai places and it’s a mission for me to find them.
Apart from cooking and food what are your biggest passions?
Food is pretty much my life. After that it’s my wife and dog. Family is everything to me and spending time with them is really hard in this career. I love football, cars, things like that but I never let them dominate my life. It’s much more food and family.
What do you do with your time off?
It’s mainly spent with the family and finding time to chill. I also like immersing myself in film: I love sci-fi and one my favourite franchises is the Alien films. I also love Quentin Tarantino: Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs in particular.
If you could choose anyone from today or history, who would be your ideal dinner party guest and why?
I would definitely invite Ferran Adrià from El Bulli, one of the greatest chefs ever. I’d cook a wicked Sunday roast; I think it’s one of the most nourishing, lovely things and it has the nostalgia of being a kid and the whole family being around on a Sunday.