Madrid-born chef tells us what to expect from Jones the Grocer’s Taste of Spain festival
Is this your first visit to Dubai? Yes, I’m very excited. I will look at Time Out to find out where to go. I always do in London. What are you about as a chef? I’ve been very lucky in my career, working with prestigious chefs including Ferran Adrià, Marco Pierre White and Gordon Ramsay. So I’m a highly trained chef. Now, my goal is spreading the word on great, traditional Spanish food. I want to show how we do things traditionally in Spain, without ‘twists’ and things.
You’ve turned yourself into something of an ambassador for Spanish food. Why? There is no-one else doing it. Quite simply. With Italian food, you have so many great Italian chefs all around the world. But with Spainish food, we don’t have anyone doing it. It’s such as shame. The great three Michelin-starred Spanish chefs don’t speak English or they are too involved with their own projects. So, I’ve made it my mission to spread the word.
Why are you bringing your mission to Dubai? Jones the Grocer is a bit of a pioneer in doing this ‘Taste of Spain’ promotion. And it’s a great opportunity. I’m putting some dishes on the menu at Jones the Grocer. Ethnic food is always quite complicated. Ethnic foods don’t travel well, because the ingredients that you find are different. You need to mould yourself to what’s available, so it becomes really challenging.
What’s on the menu? I’m making garlic prawns, paella Valenciana – the traditional one, with chicken, artichoke, green beans and saffron. There’s only one dish that we call ‘paella’ and this is it. The others we just call rice dishes. It’s made with bomba rice. It is very expensive. It absorbs more water than any other rice in the world; the more water you can absorb, the richer the flavour. I’m doing artichokes and green asparagus (now in season), Grenada-style. We are also doing cod in salsa verde. It’s my mum’s recipe. So that’s as traditional as it gets!
What can guests expect from the Grenada style of cooking? Grenada is in the South of Spain, so very influenced by the Arabs. There’s lots of spices, saffron, cumin. All of these dishes will be on a special menu. We have a tapas menu as well. They will be featured at all [Jones the Grocer] stores in the Emirates.
What else can the public expect from your participation in Taste of Spain? I’ll be hosting cooking classes and demonstrations as well. So we’re going to cook a lot of food! Jones the Grocer’s Taste of Spain runs until April 26. Chef Omar Allibhoy holds a cooking demonstration, class and book signing in Dubai on Wednesday April 22. Jones the Grocer, Sheikh Zayed Road, opposite Times Square Center (04 346 6886)