Spanish chef Pablo Tordesillas. Photo by: Ortiga restaurant.
Pastry Chefs & Chocolatiers
Pablo came to cooking relatively late and almost by accident, never having thought about becoming a chef when he was younger. At 25, after having spent four years at law school and some time in London working at the one star Michelin restaurant, Fulham Road, he finally found his vocation. Starting with “what I had already learnt by helping my mother in the kitchen, cooking for my flatmates at university, and by reading cookery books”, this self-taught chef learnt the secrets of an art which would, a year and a half later, lead him to establishments such as London-based French-style restaurants Bibendum and The Square.
After marrying an Australian and living for a few years Down Under, the couple settled in Barcelona. It was there that Pablo Tordesillas immersed himself in Catalan cuisine and the new haute cuisine techniques employed at the time at restaurant Jean Luc Figueras. Ultimately, he went back to Australia with the aim of opening a Spanish restaurant which would reflect Spain’s wealth of culinary tradition and its new splendour. The dream came true thanks to Simon Hill, and together they opened the Ortiga restaurant in Brisbane in late 2009.
'Ortiga' is a street-level tapas bar with a stylish ground floor dining room currently regarded as a benchmark on the Australian city’s dining scene. Tordesillas’ cooking has one foot in tradition and the other in modern cuisine. The chef admits that the role played by technology over the last two decades has allowed to take “giant leaps, open unimaginable doors and give new orientation to haute cuisine”; but he refute the indiscriminate use of such methods. The chef stated: “At Ortiga we don’t focus on a specific region. We try to help the Australian public to become aware of other fare and regions not just the usual stereotypes. We use local seasonal produce of the utmost quality, but always bearing in mind the flavours and traditions of Spanish cuisine. And we employ, whenever possible, ingredients from Spain which are available on the Australian market”.
The task is not an easy one. The majority of Australians believe that Spanish wine and cuisine is still very rudimentary, not very sophisticated and full of stereotypes. Spanish haute cuisine is only really appreciated by people in the know, and as Tordesillas pointed out, the most popular dishes are Ibérico ham and Galicia-style octopus. As regards wine, those from Rioja and Albariños from Rías Baixas, are, in general, the best sellers by far.
However, thanks to the work carried out by Pablo Tordesillas, and a few others, attitudes are rapidly changing.
As regards Spanish wines, the wine list is divided into ‘Spain and Spanish Varieties - Blanco’ and ‘Spain and Spanish Varieties - Tinto’, given that many Spanish grape varieties are also grown in Australia. Having said that, the first category is made up entirely of Spanish wines: cavas under DO Penedès, Albariños under DO Rías Baixas, and also other wines under Rueda, Rioja, Priorato, Yecla, Ribeiro and Valdeorras DO's.
In the red wine category there is a selection of Australian wines – under the heading Tempranillo and its synonyms – accompanied by a wide range of wines from Rioja, Ribera del Duero (including Vega Sicilia), Toro and Valdepeñas. The selection is rounded off with some very representative wines from a number of Spanish appellations, made from Garnacha, Monastrell and Mencía grapes.
Source: Wines from Spain