Shaper: Martin Morales

Show aired on 6th August 2016

Transcript

Elliot Moss
A super upbeat way to start the programme here this morning. That was Mark Murphy with Milestones. Good morning this is me, Elliot Moss and you are listening to Jazz Shapers. Thank you very much for joining me. Jazz Shapers is the place where you can hear the very best of the people shaping the world of jazz, blues and soul alongside their equivalents in the mighty world of business and my person from the mighty world of business today is none other than Martin Morales. He is a chef, he is a restauranteur, he’s an author, he’s an arts producer, he worked in the music business, he does work in the music business. He has done so many things I don’t know how we are going to pack it all in before 10.00 o’clock but hopefully we will. Lots coming up from Martin very shortly. In addition to hearing from Martin you will be hearing from our programme partners at Mishcon de Reya some words of advice for your business and then we’ve got the music and we’ve got some fantastic music including Martin’s own label, Tiger’s Milk record label, you are going to be hearing stuff from that and on top of that Ella Fitzgerald, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder and here’s the first one from the Tiger’s Milk Label it’s Lucho Neves with Mambo De Machaguay.

Lucho Neves with Mambo De Machaguay and I guess you were probably struggling not moving your feet or hips or legs or something there because I certainly was. Martin Morales is my Business Shaper as I said and he is a record man, he is primarily a chef, primarily a restauranteur after that and all sorts of other things. It’s hard to introduce you Martin because you are kind of one of those multi-talented people and it strikes me – hello by the way and thank you for joining me I should say.

Martin Morales
Hello.

Elliot Moss
I always forget the basic conventions. It strikes me that you are a very creative person who just wants to express himself in lots of ways and has done. Is that a fair comment?

Martin Morales
Yeah absolutely. I mean I, yeah, I really don’t believe there should be boundaries between a different creative form so if I started in music and I then went on to tech or I go on to film, you know, I am passionate about different areas of creativity and food has always been at the heart of what I have done so that is a key thing that I follow now.

Elliot Moss
Now you grew up, you began life in Peru. You are Peruvian I think, a 100% Peruvian.

Martin Morales
Well my father was from Leicester actually and my mother was from the Andes of Peru, a little village called Sandile Ayacucho in the Andes in the north in a province called Alluetal and they met in the late 60s in Peru. My father wanted to travel the world after he finished his accountancy degree and he looked in the paper and he saw two adverts, one for Australia and one for Peru and that night Miss World was won by Miss Peru so he kind of said ‘I’m going to Peru’. That’s how he went to Peru and then low and behold my mum and dad met in a party and I came out a couple of years later.

Elliot Moss
Where did the love of food come from? Where did that start?

Martin Morales
As Peruvians we are obsessed with eating. We are obsessed with cooking. We are obsessed with ingredients and I guess me even more so because my grandmother was from the Andes and she was a farmer so she lived there. We lived in the capital city and are obsessed with SuViche, we are obsessed with fresh ingredients from the sea and coastal cuisine, the Creole cuisine, the Nikkei cuisine, the Chifa, all of which you can find in Lima the Afro Peruvian cuisine but I also had that heritage of the Andes and all those wonderful ingredients so she would send us these incredible ingredients through these baskets every month which she called Encomienda’s, they are like a sign of love from someone that loves you basically and with those we would cook for the family and for friends and so I think it really came from my grandmother and from the environment I was in in the coast but also at the weekends I would spend time with my great aunts. Those were the sisters of my grandmother. My grandmother was called Mamita Nati, my great aunts were called Germela and Autilia and those ladies, those fine ladies, humble, beautiful, old ladies would invite me to their house and I would go, I would stay there the weekend and go shopping at the weekend with them to buy the ingredients and then we would prepare those ingredients and then cook them and then just have the joy of eating them.

Elliot Moss
As you are talking I can see you thinking about that food and I can see, I mean really I can because you are just almost bringing it to life and I wish it was here right now but it took you a while to open your first restaurant and there was this whole area in between if I am right where you were probably loving food but you weren’t making a business of it. Just in a nutshell because we are going to come back to this – why did it take you so long to make a business of it? Was it because it was almost too close?

Martin Morales
Wow that’s a great question. I made a mistake you know, I made a mistake that I regret. I should have done this 20 years ago. I should have started my first restaurant when I was 20 years old and I didn’t. I took a path that was a path through music and technology and other areas which I loved but my true passion was food and I didn’t listen to myself properly and sometimes that happens. You spend most of your life thinking ‘what is it that you love’ and of course I have a passion for music and for other things as well but this passion just would not go away. It just kept knocking at the door every year. I would be cooking for more people, for friends, for work colleagues and be talking about my restaurant that I want to open one day and so when I finally decided to do it everyone said to me ‘we knew you were going to do it one day’.

Elliot Moss
Stay with me to find out why Martin or rather, what happened when Martin did do it and where all the other stuff has gone as well and where that fits. Time for some more music then in the meantime, this is Marvin Gaye with What’s Going On.

A proper Jazz Shaper there, Mr Marvin Gaye with What’s Going On. Martin Morales is my Business Shaper today. He is the chef and founder managing director of Ceviche Limited. They have a few restaurants that are brewing and my question before to Martin was, why this man in front of me who is obsessed with food and obsessed with the memories that it invoked and continues to evoke, had waited so long and Martin, you know, you talked about you made a mistake but I think it is also more than that isn’t it. There’s a… in your mind because we are going to talk about your business life before food… there’s a moment when things are going to work aren’t there and I think you were waiting for that moment?

Martin Morales
Yeah I guess you know, my work through the different creative areas has always been about spotting talent, spotting trends and kind of try and do the bit that I love within them but also about timing. Timing is so, so important in any context of anything you know and so I was waiting for years as well for the right timing for me personally where I was in my life and in my career and I was waiting for the right time for the market place. So for me, you know, I had been, I had been just you know, growing within the music industry and the technology industry, gaining enough experience to be, hopefully to be a great leader, learning from rubbish bosses and from great bosses, learning from great companies and not so great companies and just deciding how I wanted to create my own restaurant, my own business as well. And I was also waiting for the right timing for the market place. Peruvian food you know, it was always amazing, we always knew we had something very, very special since I was a kid. Something extraordinary that is, that is greater than many, many other cuisines I truthfully believed. The variety of ingredients, the heritage, the fusion, the flavours – wow – you know, and we always knew there was something special but then through the years certain people, certain chefs, certain cuisines, certain restaurants started to kind of just give us the insight and the vision of ‘ahh this is how it could be done’ both in Peru and then outside of Peru and it was around 2009 that I just said, you know, this is so hot I can feel it, I can see some great examples of restaurants in Chile, in New York, in LA, in Madrid. Nowhere else just in those places outside of Peru and I thought ‘I can also see some great things happening in London’. I was really, really influenced by, at that time, by Bocca Di Lupo, by Barrafina, by Paul Pyo, by what Toolangi was doing, by what Mark Hicks was doing, by Alex Stupak in New York and other people and I just thought ‘this is hot, this is interesting’ and I can bring all these things together, curate and create something that is really unique for London.

Elliot Moss
Timing is indeed everything and we will be hearing lots more in time with my Business Shaper today, Martin Morales. We’ve got the latest travel in a couple of minutes and before that, right now, are some words of wisdom for your business from our programme partners at Mishcon de Reya.

You are listening to Jazz Shapers every Saturday morning I get the chance to talk to someone fantastic who is shaping the world of business and I am very pleased to say that this morning is a different take on that as definitely someone who is shaping the world of business but it’s Martin Morales and he has been important in different parts of the business world from music through to cooking, also through to actually building his own restaurant business. And Martin when you were talking earlier I was thinking, and by the way if you don’t know his one of his restaurants is called Ceviche and he’s got a few more coming and we’ll come to those in a moment. When you were talking about the art of cooking and I know this is important to you, before you were talking about feeling the timing and that’s interesting. What does it feel like to actually cook and to create? What is that like for you because it strikes me that that is at the core of who you are?

Martin Morales
It’s freedom. I mean it is self-expression, it’s, it’s, it’s just absolute joy particularly when I am doing it at home, when I am doing it for my family, for people I love and to be able to do that in London through our restaurants first Ceviche in Soho and you know, next week we open CasitaAndina. It’s just an honour and it’s just you know, it’s orgasmic for me and you know, to spread that word and to put our dishes and our ideas forward and have a template for them and a platform for them is just wonderful. For me you know, cooking has always been a creative form and it is very similar say to making music. I used to make music. I used to run music companies but I also used to make records and as a, as a chef you know, running a brigade of chefs is just like being an orchestra director. I am the orchestra director but you know I need someone to play the drums so I need someone on the grill, I need someone to, to work on the fryer and that might be someone on the keyboards and you know, I need everyone to work and play in harmony to create a song or a dish and so music and food are absolutely interlinked so that’s sort of how I work around cooking.

Elliot Moss
Now what’s interesting about businesses scaling is this whole notion of a production line, of manufacturing, of it being the same. Making music, every track is different, every song is different. Making a dish, every dish you make is different, every ingredient is different. I imagine the same is true for your restaurants and that individuality is critical. Is that right and if so, how are you going to be true to that value that you have?

Martin Morales
We are only as good as our last dish, that’s what I always tell our team and that’s the truth because these are small little works of art that we create at our different and unique restaurants which have different menus, different dishes, different drinks, different design, different people but one thing brings us all together. The same ethos to enrich people’s lives with this excellence in Peruvian food, arts and culture and I can only do that with the incredible team that I have who are sometimes even more creative than I am and certainly operationally even more brilliant.

Elliot Moss
Stay with me for more from my Business Shaper today, Martin Morales. Time for some more music, this is the inimitable Stevie Wonder with Alfie.

That was Stevie Wonder with Alfie. Martin Morales is my Business Shaper and if you haven’t been listening and you should have been and I urge you to go back and listen to catch-up, he is primarily a chef and he is also the founder of Ceviche and soon to be the founder of a new, another Peruvian masterpiece I hope. You talk about you are only as good as your last dish. In business again people want to grow and their driver often is to make the business successful. You are setting yourself up for a very hard deal Martin. Because what you want to do each time is do something magical and it isn’t the same as the last time which by definition makes it harder to scale. What is your driver? Is it simply back to the kid growing up who just enjoyed making something special to the young adult who wanted to make music and each one was something special. The way you talk about these restaurants is something special. Are you less interested in making this business huge in that sense? Is your measure of success something else?

Martin Morales
Yes it is, it is excellence, it’s not money, it’s excellence. It’s a legacy of being the first to open a Peruvian restaurant, to present Ceviche to the UK, to present the pisco sour to bring quinoa, to bring omurice, to bring lucuma, to bring those incredible ingredients that we enjoy, that we should be enjoying that are great for the world. They sometimes are grown here and sometimes they are grown in Peru. It’s to tell many, many, many stories. We are at the beginning of a food revolution that is coming from Peru. Peru has thousands of years’ worth of gastronomy that you know, there are so many stories and so much information there and so we are just scratching the surface so if you talk about the gastronomy and the food pre-Inca and then of the Inca’s and then all the different regions of Peru and then in the last 500 years the food of migrants coming to Peru from China, Japan, Africa, Italy and Spain all enrich what is Peruvian food. So all of that are stories I want to tell. I don’t want to tell the same story and replicate that all over the UK and plus I think that’s just really, really boring. I also have, I also have the real deep idea and this comes from research as well, that people are consuming things a lot quicker. They want the new more often. They are not so loyal to brands anymore so they are kind of rinsing brands and rinsing stuff quicker than before. They are absorbing all this before, you know, quicker than years before so I want our restaurants to be around for 20 years each so I want my restaurant in Soho, Ceviche Soho and our beautiful restaurant in Shoreditch Andina to be around for 20 years. How can I make those beautiful, delicious and loveable to customers locally and also they be world destinations? I think by making them unique and having different dishes and having different drinks and changing those menus regularly. It is really tough. It is really tough to scale but it’s even tougher to start new restaurants, it’s even better to work on what you’ve got and make that excellent and make that different, unique, surprising and give people a wow factor every time.

Elliot Moss
Final chat coming up with Martin plus we will be playing a track from Ella Fitzgerald. That’s after the latest traffic and travel.

Ella Fitzgerald with I’ve Got You Under My Skin, another classic here on Jazz Shapers today. I have been with Martin Morales for almost an hour and a privilege it has been too. Chef, restauranteur, man behind the Peruvian food revolution here in the UK and before that and still going actually someone who loves to create music and I think create is the appropriate word. We’ve talked a lot about the specialness and this, I almost feel like I am listening to a preacher in a good way, like you are there and we are in the Church of Peruvian food and you are saying ‘you must buy me I am wonderful’ and I get that but you are also running a business and it can’t be simply that you are serving up great food and that within a year it disappears because you haven’t got the business right. How are you continuing with the team around you to ensure that this is a viable business so that the revolution really does happen?

Martin Morales
Look we started in a recession so we started just over 4 years ago when times were extremely hard. We came from nowhere. We are now a very successful business turning over 8 million pounds a year. We you know, our restaurants do some of the best EBITDA per restaurant in any restaurant in the UK you know so we, we are very excited about what’s coming up.

Elliot Moss
So the EBITDA thing I get and I think that’s fantastic. Where and how have you assembled the advisors that may advise you externally? Who has given you that advice that enables you to continue growing your business?

Martin Morales
I guess because I have worked in different industries I have been able to look at the approach of how to run a new type of restaurant business in a different way. I have also had the phenomenal support of my right-hand person and operations director, Raquel de Oliveira who without whom I wouldn’t have been able to start this. Our executive chef, Vitelio is a superstar and our bars manager who is now our ops director, Miguel Arbe is just a genius. I have taught him everything I knew about pisco and he is now the King of Pisco in the UK. But I guess what I am trying to do is to create a group of restaurants that is excellent, each of them individually very creative and by doing so we are attracting phenomenal talent who wants to feel responsible for their own restaurant, who wants to be part of that, sharing that financially as well and also be able to express themselves creatively. I always say to my team and the way we build our development plan for each of our employees is based around four things: Fulfilling everyone’s emotional needs, creative needs, intellectual needs and financial needs. And if I can work on each of those four things for everyone one of my team then we’ve got a superstar team and in terms of advisors and people from the outside, you know, I spent 2 years working hard, talking to as many people as possible and I continue talking to those people, knocking on doors and just kind of asking them you know, how can I make this better, have you got an idea for this, have you got a thought about that? And luckily because of my background before I started our first restaurant 4 years ago, people did open the door to me so I went to Michelin Star chefs, many of which I didn’t know or I went to guys that ran restaurant groups and fortunately this is one of the most exciting industries out there because people are hospital, it’s called the hospitality industry and people are hospitable and 99.9% of people I approached were just only too willing to say ‘hey Martin, you’ve got a fresh idea I am going to help you’.

Elliot Moss
That point about generosity and that point about giving something it strikes me also that what’s important to you and you talked about emotional needs within the four needs. You give back a lot, you are a Trustee of a UK Peruvian Children’s Charity, Amantani I believe it’s called.

Martin Morales
Yep.

Elliot Moss
I am assuming that’s not because you think you should but because you feel compelled to. Is that right?

Martin Morales
Absolutely I mean I was born in a fairly privileged background in Lima in the capital city but I never forget that my mum should she have met somebody else, another guy that was not my dad, that was British, that was an accountant – we could have been living in a tough environment and so the charity that we work with – Amantani – we have three educational homes for very, very poor and disadvantaged children in the Andes of Peru. I could have been one of those children and I never forget that and I think that’s very important to have in my business so that’s part of our DNA so when we open CasitaAndina for example, there is a lot of stories around that and I’ve gone back to kind of really find you know, the soul of Peru through crafts, through textile, through dishes and through people and they are all represented in our restaurants so every little bit of centimetre of our restaurants has those stories and has a little bit of our people in there in that way.

Elliot Moss
We could talk for hours, unfortunately we haven’t got any more time but thank you firstly I should say for coming in and please continue to do what you do because I love meeting people that are passionate. What, before though I let you go, what is your song choice sir and why have you chosen it?

Martin Morales
My song choice of today is a track from our compilation Peru Bravo, it is a track called Bahia and it is by a band called Lagonhia. It is super funky, super interesting, it’s got a little bit of a Brazilian vibe to it, a Boso vibe to it as well and I just love this compilation called Peru Bravo that we produced a year ago.

Elliot Moss
And here it is just for you. Thank you so much Martin.

That was Bahia from the band Lagonhia and it’s on the Peru Bravo album from Martin Morales himself. What a creative person, someone who just needed to express himself whether it was through music or whether it is through food he just is compelled to express what he is feeling. Totally passionate about his country called Peru and all the wonderful things coming out of it. And the man is absolutely obsessed with individuality, everything has to be different whether it is a piece of music, a piece of food or a restaurant, absolutely fantastic stuff. Do join me again, same time, same place, next Saturday 9.00am for another edition of Jazz Shapers. Meantime though stay with us though because coming up next its Nigel Williams.

Martin Morales is the award winning and pioneering Peruvian chef, restaurateur and founder of Peruvian restaurants: Ceviche SohoAndina in Shoreditch; Ceviche Old St; and the gorgeous newly opened Casita Andina in Soho (watch here). He is the author of the bestselling cookbook Ceviche Peruvian Kitchen - Sunday Times Cookbook of the Year.

Martin is known as the pioneer of Peruvian food in London and alongside his cooking, Martin is involved in a variety of music and arts projects including running Ceviche Old St Gallery – featuring Peru’s top 50 contemporary artists, and his own Peruvian music label, Tiger’s Milk Records. He is a trustee for the Peruvian children’s charity, Amantani and previously worked with Steve Jobs when Martin worked at Apple as the founding member and head of iTunes Pan Europe. He was also head of Disney Music, ran record label for EMI, was a globetrotting club DJ and has also worked with Ferran Adria, Miley Cyrus, The White Stripes and The Muppets among others.

Listen live at 9am Saturday.

Follow Martin on Twitter @martinceviche.

“As Peruvians, we are obsessed with eating. We are obsessed with cooking. We are obsessed with ingredients.”

“I made a mistake that I regret. I should have done this 20 years ago. I should have started my first restaurant when I was 20 and I didn’t.”

“My father wanted to travel the world after he finished his degree…that night Miss World was won by Miss Peru so he kind of said, ‘I’m going to Peru’ “

“…running a brigade of chefs is just like being an orchestra director.”

“We are only as good as our last dish. That’s what I always tell our team and that’s the truth.”

“People are consuming things a lot quicker. They want the new more often. They are not so loyal to brands anymore…”

“We are at the beginning of a food revolution that is coming from Peru. Peru has thousands of years of gastronomy…we are just scratching at the surface.”

“We have three educational homes for very, very poor and disadvantaged children in the Andes of Peru. I could have been one of those children and I never forget that.”