From Benahavís to Le Cordon Bleu

García Roldán alongside the judges
García Roldán alongside the judges / Le Cordon Bleu
  • Mari Ángeles García, student of the Sabor a Málaga Catering College in Benahavís, won a prize for her haute cuisine awarded by the prestigious Cordon Bleu in Madrid

She doesn't know where her passion for cooking comes from. Maybe from her grandmother or an aunt who used to run a bar. However, Mari Ángeles García Roldán remembers that she began cooking at a young age. The 23-year-old from Cordoba used to challenge her parents to suggest three ingredients from which she would make her own dish. She became so engrossed in cooking that her parents bought her recipe books. But she felt that this wasn’t enough. She wanted to do more. And so she signed up to the Burgos Campos Catering College. She began to train with Celia Jiménez, (the first Andalusian woman to win a Michelin star, as head chef of Marbella’s El Lago), and soon afterwards she got another opportunity to improve her abilities, this time in Malaga. She won a place at the Sabor a Málaga Catering College in Benahavís.

“I have learnt a great deal here, about techniques, products... and above all about passion for food, because the teachers pass it on,” she said. She finished the course with a good taste in her mouth. Yesterday she was awarded a prize for Promising Young Chef by the prestigious Le Cordon Bleu in Madrid which recognises the greatest talents across all of the culinary schools in Spain. García Roldán won the sixth edition of the contest against nine other finalists following a test where contestants had to create their own version of a common dish: salmon and prawn ‘ballotine’, watercress mayonnaise and vegetables in a vinaigrette.

‘Ballotine’, the dish that won the young chef first prize

‘Ballotine’, the dish that won the young chef first prize / SUR

In her case, she filled the ‘ballotine’ with prawns, capers, lime and chervil, adding mayonnaise and the vinaigrette with orange. Technical quality, originality, taste and presentation are the most important ‘ingredients’ sought by the team of judges, headed by José Carlos Fuentes, head chef of Club Allard (two Michelin stars). The highest score was awarded to García Roldán, with second place being awarded to another Andalusian, Alejandro Pérez Polo. “It’s been a unique experience for me. Iwant to keep following my dreams as Istill have a lot to learn,” She left Madrid with a diploma worth 23,000 euros, the equivalent of a master’s degree in haute cuisine.