Meet our Executive Chef: Francisco Martinez

Meet Francisco Martinez

This week we’re introducing to you all our Executive Chef, Francisco Martinez. Francisco joined our team in 2014 and has played a huge part in the growth of the company, constantly in search for the highest quality produce for our guests.

Francisco shares the story about his journey before he joined the Fazenda family and where he gets his inspiration from. He also divulges the key characteristics of the perfect cut of meat…

As a child I was brought up around food and drink from a young age as my parents were in the hospitality business and owned a few restaurants. Being exposed to so many flavours, cooking techniques and the pleasure food can bring, I suppose it was a natural path for me to follow.

A journey through international cuisine

I started my three year culinary training in Alicante straight out of school before going on to work in El Bulli for a year. At the time, the 3 Michelin starred restaurant was considered the best restaurant in the world and it was such a honour to be part of that. Working in El Bulli changed how I looked at food completely. All the former chefs from there are part of a project called Bullinianos, and we’re still in touch with each other. 

Another pivotal moment in my career was when I moved to China for two years to open an amazing restaurant “Agua”. Soon after opening, it was awarded ‘Best International Restaurant in China’ . Living in the thriving city of Beijing, I was introduced to aromas and flavours I didn’t even know existed; the combination of sweet and sour. It was like starting to learn how to cook all over again!

Since joining Fazenda, it’s been an amazing journey so far. When I started we had just opened Fazenda Liverpool, our second restaurant. I was brought in to lead on menu development, sourcing and general overseeing of the Head Chefs and kitchen teams. Growing from two restaurants to five since I started has been challenging and exciting for sure.

Sourcing meats

My days are never the same, so I can be meeting with one of the farmers in Scotland one day, then travelling to discover new techniques of cooking and do some research. The beauty of working closely with farmers is that you can really have an influence of the rearing of the animals, what they eat and when they are slaughtered for example. It gives you more control over quality, and we’re lucky enough to be in a position that we can have these conversations with the farmers. It allows us to have more consistency and greater quality in our meats. Our meat is sourced internationally however, so we don’t always have the opportunity to be so hands on. That’s definitely a goal for the future.  

A lot of people ask me what to look for when buying meat. I always recommend to visit your local butcher. Other things to look for are characteristics such as the balance of the meat. The meat should have a little bit of marbled fat which usually intensifies the flavours and makes the meat more succulent. This is especially important for us due to how we cook our meats on the grill.

Personally, my preferred cut of meat though has to be the sirloin. Cooking sirloin with garlic, thyme and a bit of butter is my favourite way of flavouring and serving the meat. You can read more about this in our next blog – watch this space!

For the love of food

I’ve been asked many times over the years who my inspiration is, who is my cooking hero? The answer remains the same to this day. Ferran Adrià. For me, no one will ever make a stamp on food like he has. He was my mentor at El Bulli and taught me the essence of exceptional cooking and different approach to this career.

The ability to be able to view food, interpret flavour and be creative comes from those mentoring days back in 2002 with Ferran. Skills like these never leave you. It’s these memories and experiences that I try to bring to the Fazenda table now. Though for me, beyond the food and exquisite wines, the dining experience – is the  people that I love the most. There is a real South American heart here, and we do what we do because we love it. That’s the real driving force. People. People who join us as guests, and our team of people who make the journey possible.

Do you have any questions for Francisco? You can them in the comments below!