May 24, 2012|
Of course you need to understand the locals’ taste, and then sometimes you need to adapt a little bit, especially in Hong Kong, with the salt and strong flavours. But besides that, [what you serve in a restaurant] should be what you want to do. For example, using the premium ingredients at Fofo, there’s no need to change anything. Red prawns, ham… it’s the same taste here as it is in Spain. When we make the menu, we know that there are some dishes that won’t be as popular, so we just don’t do them from the start. We are at the stage where we can do what we like to do and know what people expect from us. This is one of the reasons why Fofo isn’t a traditional Spanish restaurant. We have a modern style where we do what we like with true flavors and ingredients.
I [now] know more what my customers like and I try to keep my dishes as seasonal as I can. At the end [of the day], Spanish modern cuisine is all about the product and the nice flavors coming together and being open to other possible ways of creating a dish. That’s what we are trying to do here. For example, Spanish food like the paella and the omelet, these things we still have on the menu because a lot of people want these dishes, but we also try to open up a little bit. It’s our job to help people taste different things.
What inspires me is a really good ingredient, like when I find nice scallops. From the scallops, I try to think about the season and concept. You can make as many dishes as you want. You can take scallops and put lemon, lime, butter, salt… you can make 300 dishes with that. Sometimes I get inspired by the season, sometimes by the traditional tastes from Spain, sometimes because I go to another restaurant and there is a spice that really interests me. You get inspiration from everything. I just had a baby daughter so the smell of a baby can inspire me. You can get it anywhere… even from someone eating dumplings on the MTR. You can just come up with a concept. As I say, it’s not about creating just to be crazy, but to create with a concept and a reason behind why you do it or how you present the dish.
This is the first time the Spanish chefs have an association in Asia. Basically, what we are looking for is to promote Spanish cuisine, Spanish ingredients and Spanish professionals. All the Spanish chefs in Hong Kong started the association to bring the knowledge of Spanish food. What we have seen is that in Hong Kong, to open a French or Italian restaurant without a French or Italian chef… it won’t happen. But we have around 12 Spanish chefs and 30 Spanish restaurants in Hong Kong. Basically we want to get together and explain that Spanish cuisine is very different.