Chef patron


BBC’s Saturday Kitchen

James Martin’s Saturday Morning


Dentistry or food? Yes, believe it or not, acclaimed Spanish chef José Pizarro considered both career paths – but thankfully his love of food was just too strong, and he had no choice but to leave his passion for dentistry at the kitchen door.

Originally from the beautiful village of Talaván in Cáceres, Extremadura, José is often described as the godfather of Spanish cuisine in the UK. With seven successful restaurants to his name, as well as a guest house, José is regarded as one of the top chefs of Britain’s Spanish food scene. He prides himself on taking traditional Spanish flavours and dishes and making them even better.

Chef career and José Pizarro restaurants

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José spent his early years training in the top restaurants in Spain, before becoming Head Chef at a Michelin Star restaurant. After José landed on UK soil, he spent his time working at some of London’s most prestigious Spanish restaurants including Eyre Brothers, Brindisa and Gaudi. In 2011, José opened his first Spanish restaurant, José Tapas Bar, on Bermondsey Street. This small and cosy venue was inspired by the bustling tapas bars of Barcelona. The daily menu depends on what looks good at the market on the day, and it serves an array of delicious Spanish sherries to compliment the tapas dishes.

Later that year, José launched Pizarro Restaurant, also on Bermondsey Street. He named the restaurant after his grandfather, who had a bar called Pizarro in Talaván. The restaurant went on to earn numerous accolades including The World Food Awards’ Restaurant of the Year, Best Mediterranean Establishment at The Food Awards London, The Rosette Award for Culinary Excellence, Food and Travel Magazine’s Best Newcomer of the Year and Best Restaurant of the Year. José launched two further openings in the Capital: José Pizarro at Broadgate Circle and a pop-up Jose Pizarro restaurant, Little José, in Canary Wharf.  

José also owns The Swan Inn in Esher. It was always José’s dream to own a country pub, where guests can while away the afternoons and evenings in good company next to a roaring fire. Jose Pizarro The Swan Inn brings José’s family cooking values to Esher while maintaining a British Pub feel. The menu includes José’s tapas favourites to share, such as his unforgettable croquetas, tortilla and 100% 5J Jamón Ibérico.

In August 2021, José opened two vibrant restaurants at what he describes as “London’s most precious and prestigious art space”: the Royal Academy of Arts. José Pizarro at RA has taken over the beautiful Senate Room located on the first floor of Burlington Gardens. The space is beautifully light, airy and surrounded by art.

Iris Zahara

Early in 2022 José opened Iris Zahara – a spectacular guest house in Zahara de Los Atunes, Andalusia. This exclusive seaside property is home to six guests at a time, who join José and his partner Peter for unique food-and-travel experiences.


José’s talents don’t end with restaurants – his five books launched to great critical acclaim: Seasonal Spanish Food (Kyle Books, 2009), Spanish Flavours (Kyle Books, 2012), Basque (Hardie Grant, 2016), Catalonia (Hardie Grant, 2017) and Andalusia (Hardie Grant, 2019). His latest release is a compact edition of the much-loved Basque cookbook, featuring all the wonderful ingredients available in the region, cooked in José’s style. In June 2022, José’s latest cookbook The Spanish Home Kitchen was published by Hardie Grant.

TV appearances and demonstrations

José believes that tapas is for all, and that home cooks don’t have to be scared off by the idea of cooking lots of dishes – it’s all in the prep and keeping it simple. This mantra of simplicity, along with Jose’s charm, enthusiasm and passion for Spanish cuisine, has led to José appearing on many of our favourite UK TV shows. A regular on BBC 1’s Saturday Kitchen, José has also appeared on Ch4’s Sunday Brunch, Weekend Kitchen with Waitrose, Rick Stein’s Christmas, Food Network’s The Big Eat and ITV’s James Martin’s Saturday Morning.

A regular on the food festival scene, José’s stage demonstrations are full of anecdotes of growing up in Spain, how his mother wouldn’t let him near the kitchen and his experiences of being a Spanish chef in London.

Awards and accolades

In 2014, José was voted one of ‘100 Españoles’ – a hugely prestigious award which showcases the top 100 Spaniards around the world, based on how they have brought their talents to the masses and how they have shown their pride and love for Spain through their work. José loves nothing more than flying the flag for his homeland, so this award was particularly close to his heart.  He also won the Extremeños de Hoy and awards of Gastronomy 2017 by El Periódico and Extremadura Turismo. In 2022, José was awarded Chef of the Year by Food & Travel magazine in their annual awards.


  • On Trade Personality of the Year 2012 – Harper´s Magazine
  • Newcomer of the Year Winner 2012 – Food and Travel Magazine Awards
  • Restaurant of the Year Winner 2012 – Food and Travel Magazine Awards
  • Restaurant of the Year 2012 – World Food Awards
  • Extremeño de Hoy 2014
  • Pizarro voted in at #34 in the Restaurant Magazine Awards 2015
  • Number 39 of Harper´s Magazine´s list of Top 100 Most Influential People in UK 2017
  • Basque won Food & Travel Magazine’s Reader Awards 2017
  • Taste of London 2017 Best in Taste runner-up
  • On- Trade Personality of the Year 2015 – Rioja
  • Galardón Turístico Gruta de Aracena 2016
  • Best Mediterranean Establishment 2016 – The Food Awards London
  • Galardón de San Lorenzo 2017
  • Patatera de Honor 2017
  • Awards of Tourism by El Periodico 2017
  • The Rosette Awards for the Culinary Excellence 2017 – 2018

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