Pepe Rodríguez


"I am always starting out and always learning every day"


You are alone at home with no greater plan than to watch a film. What does a chef like you prepare for dinner?
Normally, if I do not intend to make a big dinner, I tend to go for noodles. I cook them in 1 minute, add a couple of drops of soy and perhaps a courgette if I have one. They are very useful because they can be done in no time. If not, then something out of a tin. Something I like a lot is a cucumber and razor shell salad: a cucumber (peeled and sliced) and tinned razor shells. I add a couple of drops of soy, a couple of sweet chilli sauce, oil and vinegar. I love it.
What is the most important utensil in your kitchen? What can you not do without? (at home, not in your professional life).

A good non-stick pan and a good knife - I have to have those. At home, I do not complicate matters or have too many complicated gadgets because I eat very well, but simply - I do not complicate matters.
Do you remember the first major lesson you learned when you were starting out?
I am always starting out and always learning every day. Every day you realise you need to keep improving in every way. I have no advice of the ´that works for everything´ type.
After living in Cuba, your grandparents founded ´El Bohío´, your parents ran it and then passed it on down to you and your brother. What remains now at ´El Bohío´ of your grandmother´s or your parents´recipes? We know your ´ropavieja´ recipe is very famous!
Of the recipes, very little, though it is true that the flavours and eating style largely remain: the flavours from the depths of Castile-La Mancha - the stews and roasts. All of that brought up to date and evolved - as modern cooking should be.
Spanish cuisine has achieved great international renown in recent years. What do you feel makes it so special?

Firstly, the quantity and variety of products and the traditional cuisine inherent to each region that we have in such a small country like Spain. That is very important. Then, what has created the international reputation has been a series of influential chefs, led by Ferran Adría, who have revolutionised cooking - leading everyone to notice Spain and the creativity that was present in ´El Bulli´. That was a wake-up call for everyone from outside Spain. There is a flow of modernity running through Spain - on the back of the extraordinary ´El Bulli´ effect.
What is it like being a celebrity chef? Does it make work more difficult, more demanding?
You have to accept it. It is part of my job. Before I had one job - which was to cook - and now I have two: to cook and to be a juror on MasterChef. In the end, it is just another job and it is okay. People are very grateful and affectionate about how the programme is run. I had this degree of exactitude before this even existed on television. I am the only one putting pressure on myself.
What makes a good chef? Effort, intuition, audacity, experimentation?

All of that and a little bit of luck, a desire to work, technique, learning continuously and knowing you can be wrong but will improve as a result.