A New Look for Andalusian Cuisine
Text: Rodrigo García Fernández /©ICEX
Translation: Jenny McDonald /©ICEX
Photographer: Spanish chef Dani García. Tomás Zarza & Toya Legido/© ICEX
Dani García (Marbella, 1976) studied at the La Cónsula Hospitality School in Malaga and was another of the apprentices of Martín Berasategui who were quick to become leading stars on the Spanish culinary scene. Today, together with José Carlos García (El Café de París in Málaga) and Ángel León (Aponiente in El Puerto de Santamaría), he leads the way for new Andalusian cuisine.
The key to many of his creations is that he brings out their Andalusian essence using tons of imagination, not to mention scientific techniques. Dani García first attracted media attention when he took over the kitchen at the Tragabuches restaurant in the spectacular mountain town of Ronda (Málaga) and demonstrated his interest in culinary innovation.
In 2004, he was taken on by the Meliá hotel group to set up the Calima restaurant in Marbella (Málaga). There, in collaboration with Raimundo García del Moral, Professor of Pathological Anatomy at the University of Granada, Dani was the first to develop the culinary use of liquid nitrogen at -196ºC (-303ºF). For a time he was the only European chef, apart from Blumenthal and Adrià, to use the properties of nitrogen in cuisine. Some examples of this innovative technique are his 'Frozen raff tomato popcorn with raw Motril baby shrimp', and 'Cold olive oil semolina with ham and croutons'.
Another of his discoveries was that certain marine species such as red mullet or sole, when submerged in olive oil at 170ºC (338ºF), swell up like balloons while the skin becomes crisp and the flesh cooks gently in steam. Other fields of study include how to use olive oil at -15ºC (5ºF). and new ways with cuts of Ibérico pork.
Frying, extra virgin olive oil, Iberico pork – Dani is a great believer in the potential of the traditional Andalusian products and recipes. Another clear example are cold soups, one of the bastions of Andalusian cuisine, but going beyond the legendary gazpacho and ajoblanco (a cold soup made of garlic and almonds). This chef not only respects tradition but renews it and gives it added appeal.
In early 2008, Dani García took charge of the Meliá hotel bars and restaurants named Uno by Dani García. The first was opened in Madrid and offers international cuisine with an Andalusian and avant-garde slant. Two events of importance for his career took place in mid-2008. His Calima restaurant re-opened after thorough structural alterations expanding both kitchen and dining area, and Dani announced his personal culinary concept called 'Cocinacontradición', which brings together classic flavors and contemporary preparations.
Also, since July 2008, his personal culinary style has been available at the Calima Palacio de Isora, within the Hotel Gran Meliá Palacio de Isora on the Canary island of Tenerife. This is the twin of Calima in Marbella where this Andalusian chef deploys all his culinary skills.
Dani García also has a passion for tapas, as a visit to the La Moraga bar in the city of Málaga will show. Though just one of many tapas bars in the city, here the offerings are signature dishes produced by its owner, Dani García.
From November 2012 on, Manzanilla will be Chef Dani García's new eatery in the Big Apple. Manzanilla NYC will recreate many recipes of the Manzanilla tapa sbar venue in Málaga. The route Málaga-New York features cold soups as cherry gazpacho or ajoblanco from Málaga with a fig granité, boquerones en vinagre with olive oil caviar, Manzanilla olives stuffed with salmorejo, foie-gras yogurt, whisky infused potato omelette, home made mussels pickled in partridge jus, an array of besa-mel croquettes stuffed with seafood stews, or flamenquín ibérico, an Andalusian-style pork loin roll with mushrooms and cheese.
The return savors from JFK to Málaga depict concepts as García’s burger bull prepared with oxtail, Ibérico pork burger with teriyaki sauce, Málaga-style hot dog with a tomato caramel, potato chips with truffle mayonnaise, BBQ Ibérico pork rib taco, and even a cupcake served in a coffee cup.