Like many of the expats I’ve interviewed for this series and for the Writers On Spain series, Phil Morrison has ended up doing something completely different in Spain from his former life in England. Originally from London, these days Phil, AKA The Flexible Chef, hosts tailor made cooking and walking holidays from Casa Adora, his home in Monte Lope Alvarez, Jaen, Andalucia.
The holidays are all inclusive, for a minimum of 3 days, but the Flexible Chef is also flexible on the length and style of holiday. If you want to learn how to cook authentic Spanish food, you can do that. If you want to walk in ‘Real Spain,’ far from the well-beaten tourist track, you can do that too. Or if you just want to relax on Phil’s roof terrace and read and drink wine as you gaze out over the olive groves, that’s also a very tempting option. However, it would be a shame not to at least explore the beautiful surroundings of Casa Adora.
In fact, Phil’s guests tend to plan their own holidays when they arrive. His first guest, who arrived soon after he opened his cookery school in August 2015, wanted to stay on and relax on the terrace for a few days. A couple of friends from England who were doing an Andalucian road trip, Thelma and Louise style but without the homicide, just wanted a chill out for a couple of days while somebody else did the cooking. They asked Phil if that was okay – and of course, it was. As Phil says:
‘At Casa Adora, the holiday is about what you want, not what I want to provide for you. One lady on a walking holiday asked if I’d accompany her and show her around. That meant I couldn’t cook her evening meal, but she said we could just knock up some tapas together when we got back, so that’s what we did.’
The flexible approach from the Flexible Chef obviously works well, because Thelma – or was it Louise? – is returning with her husband for her main holiday soon. They own a mansion in Northumbria, and homes in Provence and Sri Lanka, so they could go anywhere in the world, pretty much, yet they choose to come back to Casa Adora.
So, how did Phil end up in Jaen? Originally from London, he’s also lived in Lancashire, Cumbria – and Norway. Phil’s business background is in logistics and computers, and he still does a little peripheral consultancy work to pad out his pension and help maintain Casa Adora, which he bought in 2008 – just before the house prices took a dive. We did the same with our property on the Costa Blanca. If we’d waited another year, like Phil, our location wouldn’t have been dictated mainly by available funds. Still, without the benefit of hindsight, you do what feels right at the time, and we’ve both ended up really pleased with our homes in Spain, so it all turned out well. But I digress.
Before he got to Spain, Phil ran a restaurant in Limousin, France, with his wife. Although Phil had no formal training as a chef, the restaurant became very successful. One customer was a regular, but unfortunately, it wasn’t Phil’s cooking that was the main attraction. After two years, Phil’s best customer ran off with his wife, and unsurprisingly, Phil lost heart for the restaurant business and returned to England for a while. He’d had enough of France, but decided he wanted to stay in Europe and set his sights on Spain. It took him 8 years to get here – Phil, like most people who fall into the ‘No Ordinary Expat’ category, is nothing if not persistent!
When he finally got to Spain, he had an offer he couldn’t refuse. A company in Norway needed a logistics expert who also knew one end of a computer from the other, so Phil headed overland in his motor home. For 8 months, he lived in the motor home and worked away doing the stuff logistics people do, but when the snows came, it was time to head back to Spain.
I caught up with Phil recently when he stopped off at Algorfa while visiting his family on the Costa Blanca. He’s a friendly, fascinating, entertaining guy with a passion for good food and wine – believe me, you would love to spend a few days with him in the Andalucian campo. He appears to be pretty much house trained, and he has a great sense of humour. 2015 is looking pretty full at the time of writing (Late May), so check out his website soon, and book your holiday with a difference. Phil Morrison is certainly No Ordinary Expat.
Phone: 953 570 297
Mobile: 627 896 504