Chef of the Week: Enrique Alvarez, Head Chef at Le Monde in Cardiff

How long have you worked at your current restaurant?
I have been working at Le Monde for the last 4 years.

Where did your passion for cooking come from and where did you learn your skills?
My passion for cooking came first from my mum when I was a little kid, seeing the way she can transform a few simple items into a fantastic meal, it looked like magic to me.

I went to cookery school to become a professional chef. I also did a couple of Masters of Gastronomy and, to finish, I travelled around the world with my cooking (South America, Europe and Central America).

What do you enjoy most about being a chef?
I enjoy the rewards of a ‘job well done,’ the feeling of all your efforts, passion and knowledge is fulfilled by people congratulating you and enjoying your art.

Name three ingredients you couldn’t cook without.
Herbs, salt and pepper.

Which piece of kitchen equipment couldn’t you live without?
Hahaha! I think a good chef can cook with just fire, but I find a potato peeler the most versatile piece of equipment along with my knifes.

What food trends are you spotting at the moment?
I think we are coming back to the origins of the “novel cuisine.”  Well presented and tasty homemade food with fewer chemicals and more natural products on our plates.

What do you think is a common mistake that lets chefs down?
I think being in the wrong restaurant, chefs are artists and taking a job were you don’t feel like you belong can let you down.

What is your favourite time of year for food, and why?
Any season can give you an opportunity of be creative and use different ingredients. But for me, I love winter because I love stews and soups which make you feel warm and cosy.

Which of your dishes are you most proud of?
I’ve had the good fortune to create many dishes during my career and I feel proud of all of them.

How do you come up with new dishes?
Well, most of the time it is from looking at ingredients and seeing what they make you feel or thinking of a flavour that you already know and imagining how to combine it with another.

Who was your greatest influence?
As I said, first it was my mum (she wasn’t a chef, just a mum), and after that, another chef – a woman who didn’t have the opportunity to professional developed as she chose family, her name is Cecilia Silvera.

Tell us three chefs you admire.
Anthony Bourdain, Paul Bocuse and Santi Santamaria.

What is your favourite cookbook?
Marco Pierre White.

Who do you think are the chefs to watch over the next few months?
Sally Abe.

What’s been your favourite new restaurant opening of the last year?
“El Prado” in Swansea.