Time Out spends five minutes with the chef at Loca, inside the Dubai Marine Beach Resort & Spa in Jumeirah
Name: Juan Flores Job title: Executive Chef Age: 50
How long have you lived in Dubai? I've been in Dubai for 14 years. I've seen the Emirate grow and develop into the amazing place that it is today. The food scene too has come a long way which has been really exciting to be a part of.
Where do you like to hang out in Dubai when you’re not at work? I like to walk around the markets of Dubai - I take inspiration from the smallest of places. It's truly fantastic to see all the different nationalities and cultures together in Dubai.
What’s your top tip for visitors to Dubai? Come to Loca!
What one thing would you like to do in Dubai that you haven’t done before? I have always wanted to skydive.
What career journey did you take before joining your restaurant? I was Head Chef at the Intercontinental Hotel, Abu Dhabi which was a great experience. I spent 15 years working in Southern California as a Chef in a Mexican restaurant. Cooking has always been a passion of mine and working in different Mexican restaurants across the world has been a pleasure. I love Mexican food and being able to cook and spread the word about Mexican food is a privilege.
Why should Time Out readers try your restaurant? Loca is a genuinely authentic Mexican restaurant. We don't do fusion or Tex-Mex food. What we serve at Loca is the same as what you would be served if you sat down at any Mexican restaurant in Mexico. We use the fresh, authentic products direct from Mexico, There aren't many Mexican restaurants in the UAE that can boast that.
What’s the best thing about dining at your restaurant in 2016? We've come a long way since we first opened. We've worked hard to establish ourselves as a serious dining destination and in late 2015 we opened the doors to Loca 2.0 in Souk Al Bahar. Loca has been around for a few years and people continue to love it because of the buzzing atmosphere on any given night of the week, the variety of craft hops we sell and of course the excellent Mexican food. People come from all over Dubai for our fresh guacamole. They love seeing it made at the table, its a real crowd-pleaser.
Personally, the best thing about dining at Loca in 2016 is the fact that my son has come all the way from Mexico to head up the kitchen in Loca 2.0. I've been training him and teaching him exactly how to cook all the dishes and his mother's been teaching him her recipes too back in Mexico. We're an authentically Mexican father and son chef team - probably the only in the UAE!
What’s your dish recommendation at your restaurant? A ha! I brought a secret family recipe with me from Mexico - our tamales are one of my favourite items on the menu. I won't share it with anyone, my wife wouldn't allow it. I've also come up with a few different varieties of guacamole - we have our own guacamole menu. Our kingfish ceviche is often lauded as the best in town..I could go on...
Aside from where you work, where else do you like to dine in Dubai and why? I like to cook at home and practise my recipes when I'm not working but I also love to go to the markets and eat street food around Dubai.
What is the best dish you’ve ever tasted in your life and who made it? Lamb barbecoas from street vendors in Mexico city are unbelievable!