Spanish chefs abroad

A Sunday Times reviewer hadn't even heard of Dani García

ANDREW J. LINN

An article in The Sunday Times about Spain's celebrity chef, Dani García, makes for amusing reading. The reviewer had never heard of Dani García nor was aware of his links with Marbella, only the razzmatazz accompanying the opening of BiBo, Dani's first London restaurant.

The writer, Giles Coren, was not impressed when he visited. The menu apparently is a huge sheet of paper featuring 'hispano-quatari cuisine'. On offer were meat brioches and chorizo and quails' eggs, although the glazed aubergine with yoghurt and broccoli did appeal.

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Subsequently there was no escape from the paella, 'Dani's biggest thing of all... he is absolutely crazy about paella'. Well, anyone familiar with Dani's cuisine since he started in Ronda more than a decade ago, will be surprised to learn this. Or maybe Dani has suffered a transformation? Any savvy reader's conclusion is that Spanish celebrity chefs believe they can throw off the shackles that would normally oblige them to follow traditional methods so they can do what pleases their imaginative egos outside their home country.

At Dani's BiBo the customers can eat roast chicken paella, spareribs paella and ribeye steak paella, dishes that would never be served in Spain if he wanted to avoid becoming a laughingstock.

When Valencian rice specialist David Muñoz opened his paella house in London four years ago, the bets on success/failure were evens, particularly since his 'classic' paella consisted of 'broiled red mullet with caviar roasted over vine cuttings, smoked chili peppers and fumé of red mullet bones with sherry and yuzu skins.' The restaurant has just closed with alleged losses of several millions. Regrettably not an unforeseen outcome.