Meet The Chef: Pablo Peñalosa-Najera

Pablo-interview

We spoke with Pablo Peñalosa-Najera, Executive Chef of MNKY HSE, to learn more about the man behind one of Mayfair’s newest and most dynamic Latin American restaurants.

What inspired you to become a chef?
My family, especially my mum. At every gathering with friends or family, she was in the kitchen cooking and I would help. From this I started to see how cooking brings people together and spreads happiness.

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Tell us more about your culinary background…
At the age of 16, I started out in a small cafeteria, soon realising that I wanted to work in the hospitality industry. Following this, I trained at Universidad del Claustro de Sor Juana, Mexico City, (one of Latin America’s most renowned culinary institutes), for 5 years. I then moved to Spain to work at ‘Restaurante Martín Berasategui’, the three-Michelin starred restaurant, before transferring to El Celler de Can Roca, the twice ranked No.1 restaurant in the world.

I left Spain for Mexico, where I worked at some of the finest kitchens in the city including Morimoto before opening The Four Seasons in Columbia. My latest and first UK based project has been opening MNKY HSE in London.

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What has been the proudest moment in your career?
I am very proud and thankful for having the opportunity to travel around the world, cooking and seeing different cultures. I feel proud everyday, as each time I see a dish on the pass in the MNKY HSE kitchen, I know that it was my creation.

If you weren’t a chef, which career would you like to pursue?
Thats a very difficult question, as I love what I do. Maybe a football player?

What is your favourite midnight snack?
Tacos!

Do you have any tips for aspiring chefs?
Top tip, eat as much as you can, that’s the way that you learn. Always stay humble and positive, it’s a difficult and challenging job at times and very easy to feel overwhelmed, so just keep on pushing and never stop.

Describe your cooking style in three words.
Technical, flavourful, fun

What provides you with inspiration for new recipes?
It’s important to remember that inspiration is all around us, being aware of your surroundings is the best way to be inspired.

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Do you have any role models?
Martin Berasategui and Joan Roca changed how I see food which in turn changed my life. The passion that they put into their kitchens and the teams around them is incredible.

What food takes you back to childhood?
Home cooking, anything from hearty soups to salads to beef.

What are your favourite summer ingredients?
Lime, fresh fruit, chillies. My love for these flavours is shown in the Yellow Tail Aguachile With Orange, Ginger, Passionfruit and Jicama at MNKY HSE.

Where to find it: 10 Dover St, Mayfair, London W1S 4LD

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