When Felicitas Pizarro’s stuffed steak, green salad and chimichurri won Jamie Oliver’s Food Tube Search For A Star competition two years ago, it was more than a turning point for the young Argentine – it was life changing.
The 30-year-old cook and sommelier – instantly recognisable for her beaming smile and sunny disposition – is now a household name in Argentina thanks to her YouTube food channel, and beyond. Winning the contest has seen her travel to the UK to cook at Festival, become a Food Tuber for Jamie, and Felicitas’ dream of opening her own multi space is closer than ever.
Before Food Tube
“When I was little, I’d help my grandma to cook, and she turned it into a game. We’d make croutons, for example, although she’d call it fried bread. One of the first things we cooked together was an omelette, and I thought it would be made from ham and cheese. She was very outlandish, so of course it wasn’t; it was made from asparagus. She gave me my first oysters when I was five and helped open my mind to flavours”.
Felicitas by Delfina Schoch
“I studied cookery and sommellerie, and then ran a small catering company set up in my parents’ garage. I would cook for special events and also give cooking classes. I also worked at a hotel located at a polo club that received a lot of foreign guests, which is where I started to speak more English. Body language also helped me to express myself!
I’d followed Jamie Oliver for a while and I really liked how he communicated his work, from the school dinners project to his cookbooks – everything interested me. Then one day I saw that he’d posted a link to his Food Tube Search For A Star competition and I asked a friend, Delfi, who had studied cinematography, to film me so I could enter the contest.”
Making the Food Tube video
“I had to come up with a recipe and given that we were filming in Argentina, I decided to take advantage and use the parrilla, cook with beef and make my own chimichurri.
Doing the video in English was a massive hurdle for me to overcome – I even sent the organizers an email asking them if I could do it in Spanish! (They said no.)
We did our best to make the video fun, using everything we had from making jokes to writing on my T-shirt. And it worked, because the video was selected as a finalist and then won!”
You can check out Felicitas’ winning Food Tube entry here.
The first time I met Jamie Oliver
“I’d arrived in London on the Friday to cook at the festival on the Saturday, but I didn’t meet Jamie that first day. I was due to give a cooking class and had taken some Argentine ingredients to the UK as well as a map to explain where produce come from, and it wasn’t until when they gave me the microphone that I realized I had to speak in English continuously for 45 minutes.
I was cooking and suddenly I heard a huge scream in the crowd. I looked round and saw that Jamie Oliver had come on stage. That’s how I met him. I was already nervous about giving the class and the first thing I said to him was: ‘I was trying really hard to be a chef and then you walked in and ruined everything! I want to kill myself!’ Afterwards, everyone said my reaction was very natural and spontaneous, above all my own shout when he came on!”
Felicitas & Jamie by Delfina Schoch
Cooking at London’s Feastival
“A year after I won, I went to Feastival. It was a really busy 10 days but it was fantastic: I visited Jamie’s house in Essex and saw his vegetable garden, for example, and I also met some of his producers. He was a great host.
“I have a two-year contract with Jamie, which is about to conclude shortly, making videos every week for my YouTube channel that came out every Wednesday, which in turn is promoted by Jamie’s channel.
“Basically, I’m part of his staff, and the team helps me out – the only difference is that I’m based in Argentina. I remember when I told Jamie about my country, he thought it was exotic and interesting for viewers to see dishes and products from Argentina.
When viewers in the UK see my Christmas videos, for example, they find it strange – although they like it – the fact that I’m making vitel toné in a vest top and shorts!”
In this video, watch Felicitas and Jamie cook up a storm together.
A life-changing experience
Feli Braised Bondiola by Delfina Schoch
“Because I was never in the public eye before, I never had a sense of responsibility but I do now. I used to buy produce in the supermarket because it was easier but now, no way. These days, I go to my butcher and ask for homemade sausages or for him to show me a new cut of meat, and I go to my fruit and veg shop. I’m much interested in how products are made – it’s changed the way I think.
And given that I’ve also published a book, of course this experience has changed my career.”
Coming up next
“I still give private or group cookery classes at the polo hotel, and sometimes I’ll hold a pop-up event and guest chef at a restaurant. What I’d really like is to have my own space, where I make videos, hold classes, write another book and take photos there, and I hope to make that happen this year.”
Latest posts by Sorrel Moseley-Williams (see all)
- AND THE BEST SOMMELIER IN ARGENTINA IS… - December 12, 2017
- CUATRO ESQUINAS: FOUR CLASSIC CORNER RESTAURANTS IN BUENOS AIRES - March 28, 2017
- Romance in Argentina: Dating Tips and Advice - February 10, 2017