Juanjo Carmona collecting his prize. SUR
Restaurant Cávala achieves hat-trick for Malaga at Madrid Fusión

Restaurant Cávala achieves hat-trick for Malaga at Madrid Fusión

Juanjo Carmona brought the trophy for best seafood cuisine back to the Costa del Sol for the third year running

Marina Martínez


Friday, 2 February 2024, 10:57


Juanjo Carmona has achieved a hat-trick for Malaga, the chef from Cávala brings back the first prize of the 'Cocinando el Mar' competition organised by Madrid Fusión Alimentos de España. It's the third time the event has been held and the third victory for the province of Malaga.

After Fran Muñoz from El Parador Playa (Benalmádena) and Javier Ruiz from Grupo La Milla (Marbella) won the previous two competitions, Juanjo Carmona has just completed a hat-trick in the gourmet contest with a simple recipe, without extravagance or artifice: gilt-head bream with garlic.

At the helm of the restaurant in the Soho district of Malaga city, Carmona opted for a version that has been with him since he opened this seafood haven almost four years ago: "al ajillo" (with garlic).

The winning fish dish: gilt-head bream with garlic.
The winning fish dish: gilt-head bream with garlic. SUR

The selection of fish is usually using snapper, red bream, sea bass, or, as in this case, gilt-head bream (the chosen fish this year by the Madrid Fusión organisation).

When the opportunity to participate in the event arose, he knew that he had to be himself,

"I had to bring something that represented what we do here." That's why he didn't hesitate with this recipe, very similar to the one for garlic chicken, with thyme, rosemary, roasted garlic... but changing the meat to fish and, in line with Carmona's cooking style, making use of everything, even the fish bones for the sauce. However, he wasn't entirely confident.

He thought that avoiding making something elaborate could put him at a disadvantage. He has proven that humility and authenticity prevail.

He decided he was going to "have a good time and enjoy the experience," and in the end, he took "great satisfaction" in bringing the first prize to Malaga, overcoming some tough competitors: El Campero, Bistronómika, Señor Martín, La Bien Aparecida, and Simposio.

The jury responsible for delivering the verdict consisted of Julia Gonzalo, president of the Association of Wholesale Fish Merchants Madrid; Gonzalo Reguera, director of Infrastructure and Innovation at Mercamadrid; Iván de la Plata, CEO at Fenicia Marketing Gourmet SL; gastronome Federico Regalado; and journalists Begoña Tormo and our own Enrique Bellver (food critic for SUR).

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