This month: Victor Castro-Quiroga, Close House
What do you eat for breakfast?
I don’t normally have it, but when I do I love avocado on toast with a poached egg on top.
What about your go-to guilty pleasure?
Flumps (they’re marshmallows)!
What would you choose for your last meal on earth?
I would have to go back to Chile for food from home. I’d have our version of a hotdog, with frankfurters, sauerkraut, avocado, mayonnaise, mustard and tomato, which we call completo. You can’t make it the same here so I’d go home for one of those.
What can I find in your fridge right now?
My wife does the shopping most weeks so I’m not on top of it at the moment. We’ll have some tuna steaks, some meat, plenty of salad things – she’s in charge.
What do you like to cook at home?
Light things – salads, sardines, bean salads – things that are perfect for summer. My wife does the wintry things, including the best shepherd’s pie in the world.
Who’s your favourite chef?
I really like Roy Brett’s Ondine in Edinburgh and Rick Stein’s seafood cooking. If I had to pick one chef, ever, I’d have to say the late Paul Bocuse.
What’s your most embarrassing moment?
There have been lots of them! My favourite was serving a gentleman a sticky toffee pudding with peppercorn sauce. The pastry chef was panicking but the guy had already started eating. He loved it – we never told him about the mistake and we got away with it.
Where is your favourite place to eat out in Newcastle?
I loved Shaun Hurrell’s Barrio Comida on the Quayside in Newcastle last summer, so I’ll say there. I’m looking forward to seeing what he does next – I love his style of food.
Where would you love to go back to?
My favourite place ever was Philip Howard’s The Square in London. The setting and the quality of the food were fantastic.
Who’s the most famous person you’ve waited on?
I’ve met lots of local celebrities over the years. Working the British Masters at Close House in 2017 was the best experience; spending a few minutes every day with Sergio Garcia and getting to know him a little bit was incredible.
What’s your most important piece of advice?
You need three things in this job: common sense, initiative and the ability to take responsibility. Understand those three and you’ve got a good start.
What would you be doing if you weren’t working front of house?
I’d love to have a little bike shop with a café or a deli and lots of niche cycling stuff. I’d do that if I ever won the lottery.
If you only had £10 to spend on food, what would you buy?
Oysters and a good bottle of pilsner.
Victor Castro-Quiroga is food & beverage manager at Close House and has worked at some of the region’s best restaurants including Bistro 21 and Caffe Vivo.
Close House, Heddon-on-the-Wall, Newcastle, NE15 0HT, tel 01661 85 22 55, www.closehouse.com