A Copa Con...Jon Warren

Today's installment in the "A Copa Con..." series is a cornerstone of the food tourism scene here and also a good friend, Jon Warren. Jon owns a company that runs high-end gastronomic experiences here in San Sebastián, and I can honestly say they are trips I would take myself. This Englishman has a compelling story of rags-to-riches, Basque style, and he also makes a mean slow-roasted pork shoulder, which we enjoyed with a couple fine bottles of Rioja a weekend or two ago.

What do you do?

I am the Founder & Managing Director of San Sebastian Food.

What's something nobody knows about you?

  I was once invited to lunch and had the privilege of being seated next to Price William (the future King of England).  {oh my gosh he's so cute!!!! -me}

What are five things you always have in the fridge?
1. Salted anchovies -  delicious and versatile
2. Monte Igueldo milk - fetched in a litre re-cycled bottle from the fresh milk machine in Gros
3. Italian Parmesan - delivered via my mother-in-law on easy-jet flights
4. Norwegian salted cod - A semi-permanent fridge item generously gifted from some Norwegian clients last year.
5. English mustard (Colman's) - I am English after all.

The pintxo: traditional or haute cuisine?

Definitely traditional.

What is the hardest thing about starting a business here?

The difference in business culture.

I'm always interested when you talk about the moral dilemmas behind your work, like exposing the authentic culinary prizes of the city to paying customers who may or may not appreciate them. Where do you stand on this at the moment?  
I'm still debating this one. For example, there's a special pintxo bar I love to go to with my wife, Nicole.  It's packed with character and old-world-charm, simple yet delicious traditional food and the whole place has a unique atmosphere packed with its regular patrons.  I have never taken clients nor journalists there (except for you Marti!) {and I love it! -me} because I'm worried it would change things.  May be your readership can give their opinion and help me out!!?

One word to describe the state of Basque cuisine.

SOCIAL. That's the word that most comes to mind and one I've used ever since I moved to San Sebastian in 2008. From the markets stalls to the pintxos bars, ciderhouses and even michelin stars, underpinning it all there's Basque people happy to share, enjoy and celebrate their cuisine with visitors, friends and family.  I find Basque cuisine so very happy and content with what it is, without hang ups about what it should be or could be.  

What is one thing you would change about basque people or the culture?

Absolutely nothing. Its a huge privilege to live here and I wouldn't change anything.

Thanks to Jon for the wonderful interview. Leave us a comment on the above topics, and check out his awesome company!