Metro Group, owners of a plethora of restaurants on the Coast (including Bono Beach, Cibo and Jacks Smokehouse, to name just a few) scored quite a coup when talented Chef, Lorenzo Otterburn, first joined their team in 2004.
Lorenzo, who has worked alongside some of the UK’s greatest, including Gordon Ramsay, Shaun Hill and Franco Taruschio, may only be in his 40s but he has already achieved more than many of us will do in a lifetime.
Lorenzo has worked as a private chef for The Rolling Stone’s Ronnie Wood, cut porcini mushrooms from the Welsh Black Hills using Franco Taruschio’s mushroom knife and manned the kitchens at Matthias Kühn’s private island, Tagomago, in Ibiza.
He has whipped up cuisine that pleases for the world’s top models, celebrities and politicians but he couldn’t be more pleased about exactly where he is right now – heading up a growing restaurant group and launching new restaurants for his company.
He is also a proud dad to four children, two of whom live in the UK while the other two call Ibiza home. This implies movement for Lorenzo, though his upbeat, energetic personality suggests he wouldn’t have it any other way.
“Most Chefs start out in the kitchen then learn about Management, but I did it the other way around,” he says. “I obtained a degree in Hotel Management and worked front of the house first, soon realising that what I most enjoyed, was being in the kitchen.”
Soon after beginning life as a Chef, Lorenzo became Head Chef of a provincial restaurant in Shropshire. Later, he took over the kitchens at 16th-century country house hotel, The Albright Hussey (a stunning manor boasting its own moat), where he earned the establishment three AA rosettes.
Lorenzo then began working with some of the country’s top Chefs, one of the most memorable being Franco Taruschio, who owned The Walnut Tree for over 30 years. Lorenzo emotionally recalls the time Franco took him to pick wild mushrooms for the first time… “lifting the porcini from beneath the earth, flicking the soil off with Franco’s knife…”
Lorenzo has also honed his craft alongside Shaun Hill, “the first Chef in the UK to achieve two Michelin stars at a hotel (Gidleigh Park).” Lorenzo speaks passionately about Hill’s ethos: “He used to have a one-Michelin star in Ludlow called The Merchant House, with 16 seats. Diners used to have to book four months in advance and Shaun worked all on his own. On weekends he hired a porter and that was it.”
Another important influence in Lorenzo’s career was Gordon Ramsay. Lorenzo recalls one particularly inspirational night. “I had finished my shift at 12am and Gordon was prepping for an event the next day. I had a quick coffee and was back in the kitchen at 1am, working with Gordon until 8am in the morning. We experimented with a few recipes, one of which made it into one of his books.
It was a great night because at the time, Gordon was really in the kitchen all the time; he wasn’t a television celebrity. It was amazing to talk all night while we worked – it is a rare privilege as normally, in a busy kitchen, the Chef gives out orders and the team works to a very strict routine.”
Lorenzo then took up a post as Executive Chef at Brunning & Price, Britain’s biggest independently run gourmet pub food company. In 2000, after visiting his mum on the Coast, Lorenzo fell instantly in love with Marbella and never bought his plane ticket back home.
He has worked both as a Chef and in a consultancy capacity, opening iconic restaurants such as Aretusa and Caruso. He also launched the Liquid Lounge, a modern and at the time visionary restaurant in Puerto Banús.
After working with the Metro group from 2003 – 2008, he opened his own restaurant, La Casita de la Heredia, catering to Swedish, English and other international diners.
A big highlight in his career was working as an Executive Chef at a private house on Matthias Kühn’s private island, Tagomago, and at one of Ibiza’s most exclusive chiringuitos, which was number one on the Pachá Ibiza list.
One of the loveliest families he recalls, is that of Ronnie and Sally Wood. “The job was challenging, as everyone wanted different meals at different times,” he laughs, valuing the friendship that was forged.
He recalls having cooked the Wood’s Christmas family lunch in London. He also worked alongside Sally for her company, Sweet Theatre, and received an invitation from Ronnie and the family to see the Stones live in Las Vegas.
“It was in Vegas that I first came across a magnificent smokehouse – the owners allowed me to work with them for a few days.” A few years later, he would reconnect with Metro Group, and launch Jacks Smokehouse – featuring tender meat barbecued to perfection, ‘burned ends’ and all, as tradition demands.
Lorenzo has had a rich, challenging career and life and it is refreshing to hear him say, “Life is as hard as you make it… you do as much as you can do and work smart, managing your time well.” He is at a great point in life in which stability and promise unite. “I wake up every day happy to be here. I love my job and my life.”
Words Marisa Cutillas / Photography Kevin Horn