Jesus Adorno: My life in food
Friday 28 October 2011
Jesus Adorno started work as a waiter at Le Caprice in London's St James's on the day it opened 30 years ago last month. Considered by many to be "the face" of the restaurant, he is now a director of Caprice Holdings.
If you had only £10 to spend on food, where would you spend it and on what?
I would go to Marks and Spencer – there is one on Piccadilly, near the restaurant – and would get one of their £10 meal-for-two deals. I'd go for a whole roast chicken and lots of vegetables. Maybe a chocolate pudding for afterwards. The wine it comes with is perfectly adequate, too. For £10, it is pretty good.
What do you eat for comfort?
If I have time, I pick something up at work. We do a very good Caesar salad, which is nice at any time of day. If I'm at home, though, I like cheese on toast. I like Edam cheese – which is not too fatty – on a nice piece of granary toast. It's quick, easy to make and, yes, as comforting as a blanket.
If you could only eat bread or potatoes for the rest of your life, which would you choose?
I like potatoes; new potatoes especially. But I would eat brown bread, if I had to make the choice. I've loved the smell and taste of fresh bread since I was a child. I grew up in Santa Cruz, in the lowlands of Bolivia and my mother would bake bread most days in the clay oven in the garden. I have always bought bread, but one day I will make my own.
What's your desert island recipe?
I've spent my whole life in and out of kitchens and around chefs, so I've picked up lots of useful short cuts and tips. Tim Hughes, who used to be at Le Caprice but moved to J Sheekey, taught me the most. Not least the best way to make a Hollandaise sauce.
What's your favourite restaurant?
I'm fond of so many. Daphne's on Draycott Avenue, Kensington, serves such fresh Mediterranean food. But I did work there for a long time, so maybe I'm biased. Clarke's on Kensington Church Street is also brilliant. The food is consistently great and the service is very soft, it's not hurried at all. It's a wonderful place for lunch or dinner.
Who is your favourite chef?
I'm a great fan of Chris and Jeff Galvin at La Chapelle. Their cooking is brilliant, never falls in quality; they are at the top of their game. You can tell that they understand service as well as cooking, everything is very smooth.
Who taught you your trade?
Colin Livingstone, who used to be front-of-house at Inigo Jones when I was in my 20s, was very important. He was the quintessential restaurateur, knew who everyone was and what was going on – he studied the theatre and social pages daily. Jeremy King and Chris Corbin, formerly of Le Caprice, were models for me as well.
Is the cutomer always right?
Without doubt. You must always try to accommodate them. If you can't, you must explain why not. I once failed to follow my own advice when I had just started at Le Caprice. A newspaper editor came in and asked for his table. I couldn't see a booking, so I told him there was no space. He was, shall we say, a little upset. After he left, a table became free. If I'd just suggested he have a drink at the bar, he may have returned more the once in the subsequent 12 years.
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