This article originally appeared in the latest June edition of Foodie: The Foodie Forks. Read it here!
Why have you chosen now to open your latest venture, La Paloma?
We felt the time is right at this moment to open a more casual Spanish eatery and we have looked around for a site for some time. Sai Yin Pun is a relative un-tapped neighbourhood, which we love and could definitely do with a sexy Spanish restaurant. We believe that Sai Ying Pun is definitely the up and coming neighbourhood and the rent is also more affordable than Central or SoHo.
Are there any Hong Kong specific challenges you’ve run into with your restaurants here?
I would say that finding the right property at an affordable rate is the number one challenge in Hong Kong. Number two is staff; finding the right staff is also very challenging.
What would you order from the menu if you were dining at La Paloma?
The Pulpo a Gallega, Albondigas, the short ribs and the Paella Valenciana is a MUST order. Finish your meal with a Bollycao which brings back so many memories of our childhood in Barcelona –it’s Nutella Chocolate Brioche Buns. Who doesn’t love a Nutella Chocolate Brioche Bun?
How do you think Spanish cuisine is thought of here in Asia?
I think Spanish food suits Asian people very well, especially tapas-style format as it’s family style, which is a very common way of dining in Asia. Also there’s not a lot of usage of dairy products in Spanish cuisine, which also makes it easy for Asians to enjoy. Finally, the rice dishes such as paella fit perfectly in the Asian diet.
What do you like about Hong Kong's dining scene?
I like that you have everything from street food to the most high-end international restaurants in the world and a whole representation of all world cuisine.
What’s your favourite Asian ingredient to cook with?
I love soy sauce, especially the umami flavor that it has that spreads to other ingredients once you mix it.
Have you ever created a disastrous dish?
Many times! In order to come up with a good dish you need to crash several times first! What I learn is that before you are satisfied with it, don´t give it to anyone to try.
What’s your favourite Cantonese dish?
I love Cantonese barbecue, especially roast goose and crispy pork belly.
What inspires you?
Travelling to different capitals and different countries around the world, learning about their local cuisines, markets and famous chefs. Also cooking books are a good way to get inspiration.
What is one of the meals you've been most proud of in your career?
In 2002, I cooked for about 35 people by myself with one assistant at a private home in Paris for some very important guests. Every dish was served in antique Chinese porcelain and everything we used for serving the food and wine were amazing antiques. It was an unique experience and the guests loved the meal.
Where is your favourite restaurant in HK?
I really enjoy classic Cantonese places like Fook Lam Moon and Yung Kee.
How would you describe Hong Kong’s dining scene?
I think it is very vibrant and a complete restaurant scene, one of the best in Asia and in the world.
Where was your most memorable dining experience?
I couldn´t choose only one as they are several but in the last year, I would say in Restaurant Etxebarri in the Basque country.
What do you like to eat when you're not cooking?
I am a product lover, so my favourite is more the simple well prepared products, from meats to fish and seafood.
What would you say is your signature dish?
Our special signature dishes are tapas, like potato soufflé with avocado chili and sea urchin or Iberian pork cheek with banana and passion fruit.
The person who has influenced you the most in your culinary style is:
In the way of thinking about food and creativity is Ferran Adrià.
If you weren’t a chef or in the restaurant biz, you would be __?
I also love performing arts, so would provably have gone for being an actor or cinema director.