‘It’s such a lovely day here in London and I’m sitting outside enjoying the sun before I start work.” Jose Pizarro, the famous Spanish chef, is a little ray of sunshine himself, remaining as committed and cheerful as ever, despite his burgeoning workload and fame.

His path is remarkably similar to that of Raymond Blanc’s, arriving 18 years ago with nothing but his experience and resolve, utterly convinced that England was his destiny, slowly working his way up the cheffing ladder until he was able to open his own restaurant Brindisa.

“They weren’t ready for me when I arrived,” he remembers. “I was ahead of my time. People didn’t know much about Spanish food. They were all into nouvelle cuisine and parma ham not jamon iberico. It wasn’t easy.”

He had to sleep on a friend’s sofa for the first month and despite his impressive Spanish credentials, started all over again.

“It was a big commitment, I had no money and didn’t speak the language but I fell in love with your country. That was 18 years ago and in the end everything worked out well and I’ve loved every single part of it.

“Because having your own restaurant is the dream that every chef has – to see your name above the door. And while it’s amazing and beautiful, it can be scary, so I never take anything for granted. I’m not greedy.”

So what changed? “Nine years ago people began to realise there was more to Spanish food than a plate of patatas bravas.

“It was time for a change – tourists had become more adventurous and noticed the different cuisines on their travels through Andalucia, Galatia, Seville and Barcelona, and they wanted their food to reflect that when they got home.

Brindisa now has four branches in London and Jose’s resulting fame and accolades are heart-warming to behold.

“People like the noise and the company of my restaurants, the entertainment as well as the food. They want that energy and it’s fun.

With a Spanish cookery book series in the pipeline, Jose is one of the many big foodie names you will find at The Big Feastival later this month, held at Alex James’s farm in Kingham.

“I went last year and I love, love, love it there. The Big Feastival offers something very special. It brings everyone together – young, old, families. There is plenty of food, some amazing music and when the rain comes I am in my tent,” he laughs. “So I’m very happy they invited me back to cook, demonstrate and hang out.”

“It’s lovely to get away somewhere different where you can really

relax and to transport a little bit of Spanish cooking and culture to a farm in Oxfordshire.”

So how does he fit everything in? “I run on adrenaline. I don’t see it as work, but every day is a challenge. I’m responsible for 90 employees now and that’s a big responsibility because they all look to you.

“And although doing a 15-hour day in the kitchen gets harder the older you get, I don’t like going too far away – I just worry about what’s going on otherwise.

“So who knows what’s going to happen in the future? We will all just have to be strong and keep smiling.”