Chef of the Week: Daniel Rodriguez, Sous Chef at James Martin Manchester

How long have you worked at your current restaurant?
I have been working at James Martin Manchester for over three months. But previously I was working for Gaucho Manchester for over 3 years.

Where did your passion for cooking come from and where did you learn your skills?
I awaked my passion for cooking when I was 16 and I was a bit lost in my life. I realised that I wanted to work in hospitality when I did first stepped into in the kitchen, I never regret to be a chef. The kitchen for me is like a lab, you can create so many dishes and develop so many ideas. I have studied cuisine for over 5 years, I started in La Rioja (Spain) for two years and then I moved to Valencia to study for another three years.

What do you enjoy most about being a chef?
What I like the most is every day you can learn something new, develop yourself and your team to be stronger.

Name three ingredients you couldn’t cook without.
Onion, garlic and rice.

Which piece of kitchen equipment couldn’t you live without?
Frying pan.

What food trends are you spotting at the moment?
British cuisine.

What do you think is a common mistake that lets chefs down?
Sometimes the pressure that we have in the kitchen, you have to show the team that you are capable to do your job and support them not to fail. Also, so many hours that we work its another important factor.

What is your favourite time of year for food, and why?
Summer! You can actually enjoy eating with your family as everybody in United Kingdom is on holidays abroad!

Which of your dishes are you most proud of?
Thai, Spanish, and Colombian food. Colombian food is not well known but my idea is to make the effort to show it!

How do you come up with new dishes?
Always trying to make something that we call trial and error, that’s how you can end up with such amazing ideas!

Who was your greatest influence?
Ferran Adria is one of the best visionaries in cuisine and there are so many!

Tell us three chefs you admire.

What is your favourite cookbook?
Larousse Gastronomique (The bible of cuisine).

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

What’s been your favourite new restaurant opening of the last year?
It’s a difficult question as every single business have passed through really difficult moments post COVID, but I guess the independent restaurants such as Green in Didsbury, Café San Juan in Stockport and California Coffee and Wine in Altrincham are really successful restaurants this year.