Interview

The 5 x 5: Alejandro Caldo Maestro, Tast, Manchester

Five things you eat every week

ACM “Fruit – Bananas, blueberries, I love fruit, vegetables, fish, Asian food, rice”

Five things you don’t like to eat

ACM “There’s nothing that I don’t like to eat. I like everything, it’s more about how it’s made. Take an aubergine, some ways to cook it I don’t like but other ones I do. I’m not picky. Actually, there is one thing that I don’t like to eat. I don’t like to eat produce from animals that are badly treated. I don’t like to eat eggs from battery hens. I don’t like to eat very processed food either. It’s more about morals than the flavours or foods. I prefer my food to come from more sustainable and natural places or organic farms. You can taste the difference. Fish that has been caught in huge nets is not as good as fish caught one by one. We need more sustainable food.”

Five things you have learned in the kitchen

ACM “Discipline: respect for the work of your partners, punctuality. It’s important to say please and thank you. Not like military discipline but just ways for everyone to work well together. I’ve learned a lot about happiness: how to make happiness work in the kitchen for me. Of course, I’ve learned to cook better in all my years in the kitchen. It’s very different to how you cook in the home. I learned patience: you need to wait until the product is at the perfect moment to continue. When you do rice, or when you do a base, a sauce, you caramelise the onions. You need to wait for the perfect moment. Not, ‘I’m in a rush, I’m in a rush, I’ll put the rest of the ingredients in’ – no, wait until the onion is perfect. Then you can add the rest of the ingredients. The meat, wait til this is perfect then you can add the rest. At the end of the day, when you finish that base, that stock, you will use it to cook the rice. If you don’t do things well from that first moment, this rice isn’t going to be good. Every step needs to be perfect. Also teamwork, you need to learn teamwork in the kitchen because you work with a lot of people and there are moments of pressure.”

Do you ever lose your temper?

ACM “Not a lot. I don’t think it’s a good thing. Sometimes you lose your temper because of moments of pressure but I don’t like these kinds of chefs that are always screaming. I think you can say things well. People need to learn. When you have this kind of chef, people only work well when the chef is near. When he’s not here they will continue to do things badly. You need to talk to them and explain so they understand. When people understand how they should work, they will work well because everybody wants to do their job well. Maybe you don’t understand something but if I shout at you, you cannot learn from that.”

Five cuisines you enjoy

ACM “Thai, Chinese, Indian, Mexican and Peruvian. I like everything. I love spicy food.”

Five things you ate as a child

ACM “I liked to eat a lot of barnacles. I loved seafood as a child. I used to eat fish every night in my home. I liked canelón a lot. I loved cuttlefish with ink, squid, octopus. I used to love eggs with chorizo. I used to ask in a restaurant: ‘I want two eggs with chorizo!’ I loved beans also. My mum always cared a lot about what we ate, she always tried to buy fresh fish. We didn’t eat frozen or fried food. She would go to the market and buy a whole fish, take it home and clean it and cook it. If you eat it at home as a child, you’ll like it.”

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