Dani García, a young, but high-profile Andalusian chef, tells us how he started out in his profession, what he likes the most and the least about it, and what his favourite dish is! Dani currently has two restaurants at the Puente Romano Beach Resort in Marbella.
When and where did you discover your passion for cooking?
Since a very early age, I enjoyed everything to do with restaurants, especially the world of cooking. Although it was not until the age of 16 that I decided to dedicate myself to it professionally. Like every boy at that age, I wanted to be a footballer or something like that.
What is your main motivation as a chef?
I have always had very clear motivation in my daily life as a chef, it is simply to make people happy through my cooking.
And what is your favourite dish?
Ajoblanco from Málaga.
What do you like most about your job?
Being able to directly influence the happiness of others with my work…
I miss many Saturdays with my daughters, and many many football matches…
Where did you get the idea to organise Cuatro Manos?
As we switched locations and are now situated at Puente Romano Beach Resort, I wanted something special and different.
Last year was our first time; however, this year, it will be a bigger event. It should also be mentioned that this is a very important event for Marbella itself, given the chance to bring all the chefs together.
Why do you wake up every morning?
I wake up every morning to be happy both personally and professionally; I like to make other people happy, by doing so, I get energy and power.
How would you describe Marbella to people who have never been here; why should they come here?
Marbella is one very special place, boasting the features of a city, while actually being a town. It is the place to be, where the sky is always blue, and the sun is shining.
What does Marbella Summer 2015 mean to you?
Last summer was the best one for me personally. I opened two new restaurants, Bibo and Dani García. I believe that this summer will be better than the last one. Hard times are over; when you find yourself in a critical situation, think about it as an experience as it will always pass.
Who stands behind your design ideas (restaurants, ads, menus, etc.)?
I feed my ideas to the right people in my team. I appreciate creativity not only in the kitchen. When it comes to restaurants, I pay attention to everything, be it the environment, music, table arrangement, people, etc.
Good Things Magazine chats to Michelin-starred Spanish chef, Dani Garcia, about his culinary passions, inspirational role models, and the exciting open-air event, El Patio Dani Garcia, taking place throughout August at Puente Romano Beach Resort and Spa.
Tell us more about your culinary background – where did you train to cook?
My first experience cooking in a ‘professional’ kitchen was at age 18, in my hometown Malaga. During my time at the Hotel and Catering School of La Cónsula, I learnt the basics of cooking. I didn’t really start to believe I could make a living out of it until I went to work at Martín Berasategui’s restaurant in Guipúzcoa.
Travelling and sampling food from the most far-flung places in the world provided me with the inspiration, skills and knowledge that got me where I am today. For a chef, learning to work in the heat of the kitchen and under pressure is just as important as building up and developing a sense of taste.
How would you describe your style of cooking?
A cuisine of contrasts. For us, flavour comes first, above everything else. We cook traditional food, starting with the best raw materials available and then use the right technique to find a sensible balance between the traditional and the avant-garde.
What’s the secret for a successful pop-up such as El Patio Dani Garcia?
We enjoy doing things well, and that’s all there is to it. For El Patio, we have created a menu with the same high standards we set in the kitchens of Dani Garcia and BiBo, constantly evaluating our work from within. In addition, the table service in this pop-up is provided by the exceptional team from Puente Romano Beach Resort & Spa, who guarantee the highest possible standards in customer service.
Do you have a signature dish?
The Nitro Tomato or our take on Ajoblanco are two examples of dishes that capture our way of seeing food and our approach to gastronomy.
What would your ‘last request’ meal consist of?
Some delicious prawns cooked pilpil – perfectly fried in fresh garlic and peppers.
What inspires you on a daily basis?
I can find inspiration in a song, a book, while working with my team in the kitchen, from the customers… when you make a living out of cooking, anything in your day-to-day life can serve as inspiration.
Who are your culinary role models?
Ever since I discovered the cuisine and the restaurants of Joël Robuchón, I have always been inspired by his methods, so much so that we organised a well-deserved tribute to the man himself last April at Dani Garcia in Marbella. On this occasion, we were able to bring 71 Michelin star chefs together under one roof for ‘A Cuatro Manos’ – a truly unique event.
What is your favourite dish on the menu at El Patio Dani Garcia?
I would highly recommend the chilled soups which are on offer in the “Selection of red, green and yellow gazpachos”. A personal favourite!
If you weren’t a chef, which career would you most like to pursue?
When I was young, before studying to be a chef, I dreamed of being a professional footballer – just like every other boy at that age.
Do you have any advice to any budding chefs?
Never give up and never stop trying new types of food. Learn new things every day and make sure you have a great team around you.
What is your proudest culinary achievement to date?
I’m very proud to represent and champion Andalusian cuisine all over the globe. On a more technical level, I’m also really pleased with the work we have done with liquid nitrogen, which adds a sense of theatre to our offering.