For June’s Meet the Chef instalment, we spoke to Executive Chef of Chiquito, Simon Xavier. Masters of all things Mexicano, he gave us some insight into what goes on in his role day to day at Chiquito. And we put our Meet the Chef questions to him to get to know him a little better.
Life at Chiquito
When asked to describe dining at Chiquito in five words, Simon told us “Flavourful, fun, vibrant, fresh and welcoming”. And as Executive Chef of Chiquito, Simon plays a big part in making those five words a reality. Part of his role is researching new ingredients and dishes to create a menu that packs a delicious punch, amongst plenty of other things: “I meet with suppliers and get into my chef whites as well as working up new dishes and recipes.”
Thinking about dishes that’ll get customer’s mouths talking and watering, we asked Simon about where he and his team take their inspiration from: “It usually comes from the ingredients that we use and find. We look at new trends but also keep close to classic preparation methods. And guest feedback is critical, listening to our guests is at the very top of my list.”
Not one to scrimp on research, Simon’s role takes him all over the world too: “Going to countries that serve the food you’re designing is very important with regards to understanding the flavours and cultures that the dishes originate from.”
Serving all things tacos, burritos, fajitas and enchiladas, Chiquito’s Mexican roots run deep. Simon told us: “We’ve been true to our heritage using authentic Mexican flavours but at the same time not forgetting our north of the border classic American dishes. You can order a Pulled Chicken Tinga Open Taco or a Pulled Pibil Jackfruit Burrito, alongside a whole rack of BBQ ribs. Fajitas are a firm favourite but my favourite is the Jambalaya with king prawns, chicken, chorizo, rice, tomatoes and hot habanero sauce.” We’ll take one of each please, Simon.
Fancy trying Chiquito for yourself? Bag 2 for 1 on starters, mains and desserts available 7 days a week with tastecard and find your favourite Mexican dish from the menu.
Time to get to know Simon a little better…
What inspired you to get into cooking?
“As a young kid, watching my mother cooking for family and friends gave me the cooking buzz. Around my parents’ house food was not just for eating but a fun social thing to be enjoyed at every and any opportunity.”
What’s your first cooking memory?
“Cooking with my mum for the family (I have seven brothers and sisters). Whenever we had food it was always a very communal thing. Great memories.”
If you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?
“A French classic: Moules Mariniére.”
Name 5 ingredients you can’t live without…
“Chilli, carrots, celery, onion and butter.”
Favourite music to cook to?
“Anything Foo Fighters.”
If you could share a meal with anyone, who would it be and what would you eat?
“Bruce Lee with Bangers ‘n’ Mash (with loads of onion gravy).”
What’s the strangest ingredient you’ve ever cooked with and how did it turn out?
“Chapulines (grasshoppers). Still working on them…”
So, what are you waiting for? tastecard today.
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