The King of Pop-Up Restaurants – An Exclusive Interview with Jimmy Garcia
The Sybarite had the absolute pleasure of interviewing London’s leading chef, Jimmy Garcia.
Hailed as the ‘King’ of pop-up restaurants, Jimmy Garcia has made his name through his popular festive Igloos (and summer BBQs) on the Southbank, Sky High Dining and not to mention the cable car suspended 90m above The River Thames. More recently, Jimmy catered at the Henley Festival 2020 at the Moet & Chandon London headquarters in Belgravia.
When did your passion for cooking start and how did it come about?
My dad is Spanish and he always used to cook in the house, so I grew up around it really, eating all sorts of weird and wonderful things from a young age. Watching football Italia on a Sunday afternoon, eating lambs kidneys on toast with my dad or outside in the garden cooking sardines with him, as my mum wouldn’t let him cook them in the house. Fond memories!
Where did you learn the tricks to your trade?
I’m still learning! I got my first job in a kitchen when I was 15, working as a commis in a place called Wolski’s in Wakefield… it was fancy for Wakefield! I then went into cooking in Ski Chalets and eventually owning a chalet company out in Courchevel with two close friends. I also worked as a private chef on super yachts, where I really developed my skills, but we’re constantly evolving our concepts and style for the foodies of the future!
Why did you choose the path of pop-up restaurants instead of opening a branch?
I’ve got a short attention span! This all happened a bit by accident. What started as a bit of fun, turning my front room in Balham into a restaurant in 2011, developed into something from there. I started going into venues when my housemates got tired of waitering, and so then naturally we set up an events arm of our business too. I’ve always loved creating restaurants in locations where people think it wouldn’t be possible. Starting with houses and moving onto boats, cable cars, and now we do full builds on pavements and iconic spaces all over the country!
Do you have any new ventures brewing for the near future?
Always! We’re opening a canapé and cocktail bar with a subliminal sustainability message, upcycling as much as possible and serving local artisan cocktails, wines, beers and even showcasing artwork made from sustainable plastics. A great place to showcase all the amazing work my team are doing on events at the moment, in addition to serving some of our favourite canapés from over the years!
We’ve got an exciting Spritz and Pizza bar new to our popup portfolio for 2020 also, ‘Piazza by the Pier’ opening 1st June- End August at London Bridge City Pier.
A couple more other things bubbling away also, but we can’t say just yet!
Do you have a chef you admire the most?
I admire anyone who goes out on their own, puts themselves out there and pours their passion into what they are doing!
What’s your speciality/favourite dish to make?
Oooo, a tough one. At the moment, as it’s been so cold, I’m a big fan of a Spanish style soup called ‘caldo’ and I am currently refining it for a menu.
One of my favourite dishes is a ‘scallop and cauliflower’ dish. It’s been with me for a while and I am super happy with how it’s developed, and often served on a bed of seaweed and mist to give the essence of the sea. It includes a hand dived scallop, cauliflower puree, cauliflower crisp, pot roasted and spiced cauliflower, maple pancetta, pickled apple, toasted hazelnuts and scallop roe ‘gunpowder’.
Do you see any new food trends emerging in 2020?
It’s all about sustainability for us in 2020 and beyond! Finding solutions to the present problems.
Where are your favourite places to dine in London?
I love Hide by Ollie Dabous. It’s the best restaurant in London in my opinion at the moment. I also love going to the many markets for a good night out. Seven Dials Market has some awesome traders at the moment.
Which upcoming events can we expect to see you at?
Glasto and Leeds are our summer festivals, but we’re working across Europe on all sorts of events this summer, from Cannes film festival, Cannes Lions and ILTM Berlin and lots of others too!