Abi Lindsay Clark had the pleasure of asking the highly acclaimed International chef Dani Garcia a selection of questions which everybody would like to know the answers to.
You achieved your first Michelin star when you were just 25 years old! Tell us about that period of your life.
Well, at that time things really were quite different to today. It is true that within the world of gastronomy it had its importance and on a personal level it was something unique.
With an impressive 3 Michelin stars to date and countless other awards, how do these make you feel?
Happy. Just over two months ago we closed the Dani García Restaurant in order to continue making dreams come true and bringing my cuisine to further afield. That, I feel, is the biggest achievement… for people to enjoy my gastronomy.
You lived in the USA for a while. How did you find that experience and was it an important learning period for you?
Everything we do has a learning curve behind it. Including the mistakes. I love that area and I was very happy during the time I was there.
I have read that you have huge plans to open more restaurants both in Spain and abroad. Can you elaborate on this?
Yes, just a few weeks ago we opened BIBO in Doha (Qatar). It was the first international opening of BIBO. We are very happy and excited. We are also working hard on Leña, a grill restaurant that will be located right where Dani García Restaurant was in Marbella. In addition to all this, there are other projects such as the arrival of BIBO at Malaga airport and more international projects in Europe and America.
Your successful programme on Televisión Española 1 ‘Hacer de comer’ started in March last year. How did this project come about?
We receive a lot of proposals every day. Unfortunately, and because of work, projects and the rest, we cannot say yes to all of them. The TVE proposal arrived just at the exact moment in which I always wanted to make a TV programme of this type, since I have collaborated and continue to collaborate in other programmes such as Masterchef, for example. It has been a unique experience, which, due to agenda issues we have had to stop for a while. But I will be happy to return in the future.
The programme has a friendly natural feel to it and I especially enjoyed the one when your Mother appeared by surprise on the show! Would you say that she was responsible for your passion for cooking?
Yes, totally. I drew inspiration from her passion and what she taught me along with my grandmother. Her cuisine is the basis of mine.
You currently have a few restaurants in Spain. Do you find it a challenge overseeing each of them? Especially given the distance between Madrid and Marbella.
Yes, but for this reason I have a team of people who support me and I have total confidence in them. Unfortunately, I can’t be in all of them every day simply due to the distance involved. But I try to keep up with what happens at all times and be able to help the team that is in the restaurants every day in everything they need.
I imagine you spend most of your time in Madrid with your restaurants and filming, do you miss your home town a lot?
No, actually most of the time I am in Marbella. It is where my house, my family and the central part of Grupo Dani García are. At Atelier, I work with my team on changes to the menu and we test new dishes. We all move around the world but the headquarters are in Marbella. Even so, while recording the programme I have spent long periods in Madrid.
Your foundation, Dani Garcia, is conducting some impressive and vitally important work. For example, its work regarding healthy eating habits to prevent childhood health issues. Can you tell us more about these projects?
With the Foundation we mainly want to help improve the eating habits of very small children. We have campaigned with Mapfre in order to help create easy and healthy habits.
Do you feel that it is possible for healthy, tasty fast food to exist?
Yes, it is possible. You just have to use your imagination and work hard.
Is this something that you feel you have achieved with your MacDonald’s Signature hamburger?
I am fascinated by McDonald’s ability to make a burger that is much lower in calories than if you go to the supermarket and make it at home. The meat we use for McDonald’s hamburger is free of preservatives and colourings.
Here in Spain, over the last few years, we have seen an increase in child obesity and a distancing from the Mediterranean diet. Is your foundation working on any aspects regarding this?
Due to work and other commitments, we do things to help like the campaign with Mapfre that I mentioned before. I wish we could contribute much more to solving these kinds of problems.
Many studies have demonstrated the benefits of the Mediterranean diet. How would you say this influences your gastronomic creations?
The products of our region are always present in my cuisine. Everything has an influence, but we always take things further.
Many parents are concerned about the eating habits of their children. For example, what kind of breakfast do you give your daughters?
Well, they are grown up and practically have breakfast on their own. I always try to have healthy products available so they can eat healthily and have a good diet.
As an Andalusian, which dish would you love to see as the dish which represents Spain?
Any gazpacho or gazpachuelo. When I started in the world of haute cuisine, nobody dared to incorporate cold soups in their menus.
Does the Andalusian culture always influence your creations?
Always. I’m from here and it shows in all my dishes. I always try to use products from my region.
When you eat out, which is your favourite type of food and restaurant? And when you cook for yourself, do you have a favourite dish?
When I eat it depends on where I am and the moment. I really like Japanese cuisine, for example. But I also don’t rule out a good tapas bar. When I am at home, it also depends on whether I am cooking for myself or for my family. If my daughters are at home, I like to make mac & cheese, for example, because they love it.
Dani you have come so very far with your passion and talent not only as a brilliant chef but also a business man. How have you achieved such international status?
With work, a lot of work. With many hours of effort and dedication. In those hours, you sacrifice a lot but little by little you end up fulfilling your dreams.
Do you find it hard to balance your life as a chef and business man with family life?
Yes, it’s hard. But you always try to keep the balance between one thing and the other.
What advice would you give to a young and passionate Chef just starting out?
To never lose hope and work hard to achieve his or her dreams. The road may not be easy. But there will always be light at the end of the tunnel.
What is your next goal in life?
To take my cuisine to all corners of the world.