Chef of the Week: Leyre Pedrazuela, Freelance Pastry Chef in London

How long have you worked at your current restaurant?
I am currently working as pastry consultant for some hotels and brands in London, doing the development of their menus and pastry offer. I left my position of head pastry chef at Shangri-La in May 2022.

Where did your passion for cooking come from and where did you learn your skills?
It all came from my family. In Spain we celebrate everything with food. I learnt and I keep learning every day by working, reading books, and taking courses. It is important to invest your time on keep learning and developing every day. Experience can only be gained with the time.

What do you enjoy most about being a chef?
Creating new dishes and being creative.

Name three ingredients you couldn’t cook without.
Vanilla, chocolate and nuts.

Which piece of kitchen equipment couldn’t you live without?
My little palette knife. I use It for absolutely everything!

What food trends are you spotting at the moment?
Food that not only tastes good, but also tells a story. Is all about the experience and the memories you create nowadays.

What do you think is a common mistake that lets chefs down?
Focusing too much on the appearance of the food, and not taking into consideration the flavour or cooking process. For me, it doesn’t matter if you are cooking the most beautiful dish, if the flavour and the balance is not right, for me is a waste.

What is your favourite time of year for food, and why?
The cold weather. I love rich and tasty food, as well as desserts. I also enjoy going out for dinner or even cooking at home, and I feel in summer the only thing I really want is to have a cold beer and an ice cream, while in winter, I love going to cosy places and eating tasty and delicious food.

Which of your dishes are you most proud of?
Some of the plated desserts I have recently created that has gone viral on Instagram like the Kiss from a Rose at Park Row restaurant… I would never imagine a restaurant could be known by its desserts more than by its food… but yes, I did it.

How do you come up with new dishes?
I am a very creative mind so for me is easy, however I do also research so much before I create a dish.

Who was your greatest influence?
I think I have a little bit from everyone and everywhere I have ever worked. Is important to learn and to absorb all the information and knowledge people share with you over the years.

Tell us three chefs you admire.
There are so many chefs I admire, but I have to say, the ones I admire the most, are those who even if they have all the recognitions and awards in the world, they keep humble and the treat people with respect, for me is not about how and what you cook, but about what you give in return to the industry and the people who surrounds you.

What is your favourite cookbook?
Essenzia, the one I have just published… I am proud of it, it talks about sustainability, natural food and how we can contribute to a better way of consuming and looking after the planet. It talks about values and how to look after our industry and the planet, which for me, is essential.

Who do you think are the chefs to watch over the next few months?
I am not sure, I am not very much on the loop, and this is something very personal to each of us. I would always say, these who not only cook good food and are creative and unique, but the ones who cares about sustainability and people.