TABLE TALK: Jose Arato

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Photo Credit KATHY HO

Once an accountant in Venezuela, Jose Arato’s life and career is one of transition and exploration. Arriving in Toronto some 13 years ago, Jose’s passion for food led him from culinary school to a job as a creative pastry chef working mostly in the wedding industry.

Not long afterward, a close friend approached him with an opportunity to buy and operate a Spanish catering business. Owning his own business was something Jose had always wanted. But he wasn’t exactly familiar with the territory.

After taking the leap and embarking on his own business, Jose turned Pimenton — a nascent catering company — into a full-fledged kitchen with workshops and products for sale (check him out at Brickworks Farmers Market every Saturday 9-1). Recently, Pimenton’s menu has sensibly transitioned to include Moroccan food and spices, bringing the bazaar to Toronto while still offering his signature Paella Valenciana.

Its here, at the cross-sections of Moorish Spain and Morocco, where Jose began to discuss Iberico ham. These black-hoofed pigs (pata negra) roam the Iberian peninsula. Near the end of their life cycle, a small percentage are chosen by lottery, separated and fed only fed acorns, which is said to sweeten and enrich the meat flavour.

Famous for that melt-in-your-mouth texture, Jose says the Pluma is the best cut, although the Secreto/Cruceta and Bola/Presa/Abanico are also popular.

After finishing our delicious Catalan stew and salad, Jose assertively closes with his plans to continue exploring new food and culture but never at the expense of his passion.

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