- 15 Jul 2022 3:02 PM
He has traveled the world showing the most traditional recipes of his homeland, from Shanghai to Los Angeles, passing through Madrid, where he has been established for a few years, he recently came to Budapest exclusively to cook for an important group of businessmen and personalities of the Hungarian socialite.
Meet the mastermind behind Madrid's La Fontana Restaurant, a fusion kitchen that can proudly say it receives hundreds of diners of European origin, interested in Latin American flavors
1. Where did you grow up?
I was born and raised in Quito, in the middle of the Andes of Ecuador, at 2,850 meters above sea level, surrounded by about 20 volcanoes, several of them active, and that marks our character of always wanting to reach the top.
2. Who was the best cook in your family?
If I say it wasn't my mother, I'm going to have a big problem. However, I was always attracted by flavors from relatives who lived outside of Quito, flavors that I still remember from their stews.
3. What is your fondest food memory?
I first studied architecture and interior design, and when I decided to give it up for cooking studies and dedicate myself to this profession, it was a very strong blow for my mother, many times she called me in Madrid and asked me when I would leave this hobby to dedicate myself again… architecture.
One day an important Ecuadorian magazine gave me a two-page interview in a restaurant in Madrid, where I was already considered a benchmark for Ecuadorian avant-garde cuisine in Spain, and it didn't take long for the phone to ring, it was my mother asking me to apologize and that I now clearly understood what my profession was.
4. What was the first recipe you learned?
Cooked rice, with a little oil, water and salt, if it remained without making a dough it was already an achievement. This was about 11 years old.
5. What is your favorite food to eat?
Everything, I like to eat, I like food, like everything, but it is essential that it be well prepared and tasty, in addition to always looking for more exotic flavors that surprise me.
6. How often do you 'play with food' to create new dishes?
Well, because of my job almost always, especially every 3 months, which is when we change the menu and try new things, products, flavors, and we use our guinea pig customers to find out if we can put it on the new menu or not.
7. Which chef do you admire most and why?
I really admire chefs in general because reaching a position as a chef, running large kitchens and businesses is not easy, it requires a lot of sacrifice, but I have always admired a chef who is Carlos Arguiñano, a Spaniard, who based on cooking and without making avant-garde and rare things has always managed to maintain a very high level, betting on the product.
8. When did you start cooking, and why?
It was clear to me that I wanted to be a cook since I was 11 years old, unfortunately when I was a student being a cook was not well seen, my parents would have fainted if I told them that I wanted to study cooking, but life turns around and the day came when I was able to study for chef in Spain, don't hesitate to do it, almost 20 years of that.
9. What was your funniest kitchen incident?
In so many years in kitchens, there are always moments of laughter, but the jokes that are made to the new ones are always a reason for laughter and relaxation. I remember once sending a recently graduated kitchen assistant to cut flour, the Young guy spent half an hour cutting flour very finely on a cutting board, and every time he finished the others told him to make the cut finer, they don't like it that way.
10. What was the luckiest moment in your life so far?
It depends on what the “fortune” is, if it is economic, professional, personal, but I think that if there is a turning point in my professional life, it was when I started working with the Ecuador brand and betting on its gastronomy.
11. How do you like to relax?
I never relax, I can be on my day off, on vacation or even sleeping that I am always thinking about what to create or how to improve the recipes or the general environment of the restaurant.
12. What is your most treasured possession?
My children, without a doubt, have known how to get rid of objects and perhaps it doesn't hurt to leave things behind, although I must be honest and it hurt me to sell my red convertible to go live in China.
13. Apart from temptation, what can't you resist?
My weakness is food, I can't resist eating, I can eat at all hours, it's something that really is more than an element of survival for me.
14. What single thing would improve your quality of life?
Well, as you will understand, due to my temptations, I think that a more balanced diet would be good.
15. What career other than yours would you love to pursue?
After meeting so many people and traveling the world, I think I should have studied law and dedicated myself to politics, well, it's never too late.
16. What job would you definitely never want?
All work is dignified, but there are jobs in which criteria are often involved, such as that of a judge, in which you have the power to punish a person with the possibility that they are innocent, or to let them go free knowing that you can make a mistake.
17. What achievement in your life are you most pleased with?
My life has always been focused on work, it revolves around my work, so I always associate my achievements with it, but I think that becoming the most successful chef in Ecuador outside the country satisfies me a lot, having fed important and famous people who value my cuisine.
18. What behaviours do you most like in others?
I believe that for everything to work, beyond loyalty, sincerity, honesty, etc, there must be a principle of respect.
19. What would you say is your personal motto?
The special one.
20. What is your professional goal for the next 5 years?
We are on the right track to be the referents of Ecuadorian gastronomy outside Ecuadorian territory, so it is important not to slow down, but if I want to dedicate myself more to gastronomic training and coaching, teaching restaurant entrepreneurs to grow and give all my experience for its development. I would love for it to be able to do it in Ecuador as well, but nobody is a prophet in their land.
21. What other questions would you ask a chef?
Would you be Chef again?