I’m too long in the tooth to expect life to be fair, but sometimes you hear news which strikes you as so plain unjust that you wince. It’s so wrong that an immensely talented chef like Jonray has gone so young: it’s heartbreaking to think of Olive and Bella, on whom he absolutely doted, losing their dad like this.
There was always something loveably youthful about Jonray. Although he was the older of the two Casamia brothers, his infectious lopsided grin and unruly hair seemed to belong to someone much younger. There was something of the boundlessly enthusiastic puppy about him, an obvious zest for life. To talk to him was to feel impressed by his energy while wondering how on earth he sustained it.
When we met I was brand new to blogging: in fact, we went to Casamia to start off this whole project. In truth, we were already half in love with the restaurant after following their progress in Gordon Ramsay’s television series, and then we had fallen in love with the place from our first visit. Our second visit was keenly anticipated. As the evening lingered Jonray began to serve us himself, from the eighth course in, with a radiant enthusiasm and an actual interest in what we thought of the food. And then the brothers invited us up to their development kitchen, where we spent another hour chatting about food, about football, about the future; looking at their sketches and plans for the new menu. About being a new dad, and the sheer pride and pleasure in his face when he talked about his new daughter was inescapable. Bear in mind he had been in work for something like fourteen hours by that point, and that I was just some Joe Schmo who was eating in his restaurant.
Of course, he was already gravely ill.
That generosity of spirit was something which characterised his dealings with others: reading chefs’ tributes and talking to others recently, what you hear time and again is how he was always quick to congratulate others on their successes. To know he died before he saw yet another plaudit- Casamia being named the fourth-best restaurant in the UK by The Sunday Times- is another sad note.
The death of such a personable talent would be hard to beat in any restaurant: when it’s Casamia, founded on two parents’ belief in their sons’ burgeoning talent, it must feel even more shattering. For Peter, so used to having his brother at his side trough every service, the grief must be incalculable. The huge outpouring of shock, sympathy and acclaim the family have recently experienced will have been some comfort to them, I hope. My thoughts are with Paco, Sue and Peter, and with his young family.
To Jonray Sanchez-Iglesias, then; and may we all be as keenly mourned and missed when our time comes. May we all leave such a chasm in the lives of the ones we love. Rest In Peace.
The family have set up a Just Giving page: https://www.justgiving.com/Jonraysanchez
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This blog is a very simple thing.
I won’t try to sell you any hand lotion, exercise programmes, coffee syrups or Patagonian nose flutes. You won’t find tips on dating, ‘wellness’ or yoga mats.
I write because I love it (and food, as indicated by my increasing girth). Greed happens to be my Deadly Sin of choice, but at least it is never shy of providing me with subject matter.
A simple thing, then: all you get is me wittering on semi-coherently about places I’ve eaten at; hence a ‘restaurant blog’ rather than a ‘food blog’, although there are a few recipes scattered throughout.
From mezze to Michelin ‘fine dining’ and all points in between.