Who is your role model?
Mitch Tonks. For me, he has the most beautiful restaurant in the world, it’s the restaurant I’d love to open one day. It’s called The Seahorse in Dartmouth by the seaside. When I met him 16 years ago, for me, he was the key, the right person to meet as a female Spanish chef in London. This guy – he inspired me so much. He took me to meet the right people, he showed me about focus, and taught me where to buy the best fish and where to buy the best meat. I can have long, long conversations with him about food. Every year we take a few trips to Italy, Spain… I think, if I hadn’t met this guy, my life it would be different.
What ingredient can you not live without?
Olive oil and garlic, I put these in every single dish. If you take those from me, I’m nothing. [laughs]
What item, apart from your passport, can you not travel without?
A notebook. I’m always taking ideas down, ingredients and things. I can’t do without it.
Where is your favourite place to eat in London?
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given in your career?
Patience and discipline. You have to be disciplined with yourself. Otherwise the whole kitchen will go down. It’s also the same in life.
What do you like to do on a day off?
I normally have Sundays off, but I always have to be working. Maybe I’ll take a couple of hours to check emails and focus what is going to happen on Monday. So this is my day off. But I like it because on Monday then I don’t have to start from zero. If it’s winter, I like to stay home and cook at home but in summer I like to venture out and see what is new. I go out with my friends and eat. All my holidays and time off are about food.
Apart from food, what are your biggest passions?
Sport. In the last three years I haven’t done much. I love cycling, I used to play football and tennis, running, swimming, trekking. I do a lot for charity as well with trekking and cycling . For me, food and sport are my passions.
NIEVES BARRAGÁN came to London 20 years ago from the small Basque town of Santurtzi in Spain. In 2002 she met Sam and Eddie Hart and helped open Fino, followed by Barrafina four years later. In 2014, Barrafina was awarded a Michelin star. She is due to open her new restaurant, Sabor with former Barrafina restaurant manager José Eturo, this winter in Mayfair’s Heddon Street