The Indian culinary map is seeing interesting times. The new set of gourmands are well-travelled, and are expressing a keen interest in global cuisine closer home. Speciality pop-ups, with a select few in attendance, are thus becoming the order of the day! We happened to be part of the ongoing Spanish pop-up, at the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel in Mumbai.
After successfully hosting two editions of the ‘Spanish Extravaganza’, the Taj has once again forayed into the land of gastronomic experiences, Spain, this time with Chef Alberto Ferruz. Chef Alberto is a master of flavours and is known for his innovative take on traditional Spanish Cuisine from the Jávea and the Marina Alta regions. His restaurant BonAmb just received its second Michelin star and third Repsol Sun within just eight years of opening its doors.
The Spanish feast will begin at the Taj’s flagship, The Taj Mahal Palace Hotel in Mumbai, and will be on until 15 December, at The Chambers, before moving to the Taj West End, Bengaluru, from the 19 th to 22 nd December 2019.
The six-course menu which we got a glimpse into gives the traditional tapas and paella a complete miss. Instead, it focuses on authentic flavours and ingredients from the Mediterranean. Sea-food heavy, owing to Spain's proximity to the Mediterranean sea, the menu starts with a unique Crispy Seaweed, before moving on to a Crab and Lobster soup. The mains are just as awe-worthy, and includes dishes such as: a tomato-based flavoursome Half Salted Tuna, an interesting turnip-based Legume Broth with Dry Salted Egg Yolk, and the star of the evening for me, the melt-in-the-mouth Fish, a beautiful combination of Dry Land Sea Weed and Sea Bass Collagen. To end, what so far had been a delicate balance of flavours, came the Chef's signature Spiced Ubergine Cardamom dessert.
With a tummy-full and a happy-heart, we caught up with the 35-year-old award-winning chef, who speaks no English (his kitchen aid is our interpreter), on his culinary beauties and duties.
How did your interest in food come about?
I grew up on this familiar ambience of a restaurant; it was so full of life and movement, that I got seduced by it early on.
Fond memories of your childhood food & how much of an influence that is on what you cook now...
A sauce made with fried cauliflower that my grandmother used to make, which is also one that we are cooking here...
Your first professional break...
I started at 14, and used to help with bottles, at first. Little by little, I started to work in my family restaurant, in the kitchen.
Two Michelin stars already, and many accolades later, what do awards mean to you...
I don't overlook the achievements because I know that all of that is because a big effort from me and my team. The most important thing to me is to keep cooking and to make my clients happy.
Three things about Spanish food the world still has to wake up to...
Firstly, in Spain we love the product and we treat it as expected, we try to respect it as much as we can. Secondly, our cuisine is extremely varied, and is an influence of cultures. Finally, in Spain the act of eating by itself is a party. We love to eat and we have a huge tradition around food.
What can India expect from you while you are here as part of the Spanish Extravaganza?
We want to bring across a unique experience, where my cooking style, serves as an inspiration for you to travel to the Spanish locales, and taste my food there.