Camino's Nacho del Campo: staying true to his roots

Nacho del Campo, in kitchen
Authentic recipes: Nacho del Campo aims to remain true to his roots

Spanish chef Nacho del Campo discusses his passion for food, revealing some of the highlights of his childhood in Spain

Nacho del Campo grew up in Vitoria, the capital of Spain’s gastronomic Basque region. He has also worked in Catalonia and lived in Madrid, where his extended family is based. He says: “These are undoubtedly the three best areas for food in Spain.”

True to his roots

Del Campo is executive chef of London’s award-winning Camino and Pepito tapas restaurants and bars.

He explains the key to their success has been for him to remain true to his roots while recreating flavoursome, authentic recipes with the finest natural Spanish ingredients.

So what type of tapas can customers expect at Camino? “I like to showcase the varied and exciting produce Spain offers” he says. “I treat ingredients with respect, and put flavour and freshness centre stage. Ethics and provenance are important, too.”

A diversity of styles

Camino means path, alluding to the restaurant’s inclusive menu which offers tapas from across Spain. “Tapas for me is diversity,” says del Campo, “and I try to reflect this.

Path to success: Camino showcases the exciting produce Spain offers

The Pyrenees has wonderful meats and cheeses; Galicia has amazing shellfish; while a warmer, drier place like Andalucia makes delicious charcuterie. Every province has its own culinary personality and specialities.”

Del Campo has cherry-picked a lot of great tapas ideas and melded them into his own style, but it is not only tapas that is proving a hit with customers. “My signature main dish is very popular, too. It’s presa iberica (a very tender well-marbled cut of pork) which I cook slowly over our special Basque charcoal grill,” he says.

Camino restaurants have a bar at their centre and have a rustic décor, though the newest branch, Camino Bankside, is light, airy and modern, with a dazzling feature wall of colourful Spanish tiles and shiny Mahou beer taps that sit as proudly as polished trophies on the bar.

Inclusive menu: sample tapas dishes from all across Spain

Del Campo’s own path

Where did del Campo’s love for food take root? “My mother is an amazing cook and I always loved when we sat down as a family to enjoy meals. We also used to go to restaurants on Sundays for tapas. It was a highlight of my childhood,” he recalls.

When del Campo was eight, his younger brother was hospitalised for long periods of time, which meant that he and his older brother were often left to fend for themselves. His first attempts at cooking were hit and miss but he soon began to really enjoy it.

After working in a tapas bar in Vitoria, he studied cooking at college, and it was while working at a Michelin-starred restaurant in the Basque country that a sommelier introduced him to the art of matching food with wine, and indeed beer. “The experience really fired my creativity, and I am as passionate today about pairing food and drink as ever,” he says.

Part of the UK’s flourishing tapas scene

Since moving to England with his wife 14 years ago, del Campo has worked in a few prominent restaurants, including Bibendum in South Kensington, and has learned a slightly different way of doing things. “When I look back, all these experiences have helped make me a better chef,” he says.

How does the UK compare these days to Spain for tapas? “The tapas culture here, especially in cities, has come a long way in terms of the quality, the range of ingredients and in the presentation. It’s really wonderful to see.”

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Enjoy a range of tasty dishes at Camino in London #perfectpairing #mahou