I started cooking at the age of 22. I decided to take a chance going out from my village La Garriga to the big city of Barcelona to study hospitality at CETT (School of Tourism, Hospitality and Gastronomy).
My first job was under the direction of the renowned French Chef Jean Louis Neichel - I loved his leadership style, the engagement of all staff, the organisation of the kitchen, recipe books made by hand, spices from around the word all ordered from A to Z - what a place, it was like a laboratory.
After that I had the opportunity to work for Jean Luc Figueras at Mandarin Oriental Hotel - another great Chef in the Barcelona scene: the rock & roll Chef.
I continued my career working at other Michelin star restaurants and over the years, I reached the position of Head Chef at several restaurants in Spain.
I had the opportunity to move to Australia in January, 2017 to Tinto Restaurant in Hawthorn (Melbourne). I didn’t think twice: one of the best decisions of my life.
Best seafood, like the spanner crabs, or blue swimmers, barramundi, scarlet prawns…best meat, lamb and Wagyu, along with spices from all over the world with a strong Asian influence.
Have you always wanted to be a Chef?
Not before I worked in Neichel’s Kitchen. At the time I was quite unsure of what was going to be my future. I fell in love with cooking after working there: this was an incredible feeling – hospitality is an exciting, almost addictive industry.
Always trying to become better, makes you work harder every day in search of improvement. For someone with OCD like me, it is frustrating and satisfying at the same the time. In recent years, I started to really identify myself with the culinary world, always reading about it and trying to improve menus.
Working with my team and serving our guests makes me feel that I am giving the best of myself as a person. I think that the most important thing in life, besides your wife and family, is to be happy with what you do at work.
How would you define your style?
Based in the Mediterranean cuisines and my own interpretations of it.
What is your feature flavour these days?
I love saffron and smoked paprika for savoury; tonka bean and vanilla bean for sweets.
Organisation and attitude, OCD impulsive and cleanliness.
Your greatest culinary influence:
The unforgettable Chef Santi Santamaria, 3-star Michelin (Sant Celoni, Catalonia) - a celebrity Chef who promoted the Catalan traditional recipes.
What do you love about this business?
Since its inception in 2014, Tinto has been able to establish a solid customer base of ’regulars’, made up of locals and people with a culinary interest, who travel from afar to taste Spanish fare.
They are providing support even during these uncertain times. The 4 pillars of hospitality are equally well addressed: good food and service, varied wine list focussed on Spanish and local Victorian wines, combined with a genuine Barcelona ambience.
The simplicity of the restaurant makes it quite unique in the area and reminds me of home - simple but very good.
An ingredient you can’t live without:
Garlic to mention one. I think all ingredients are interesting if you know how to use them.
Most ‘eyebrow-raising’ menu items?
Tomato tartar, spanner crab avocado cannelloni, zucchini Flowers, cod and romesco (traditional Catalan sauce), just to mention a few.
Slow-cooked beef cheeks, roasted sweet potato purée, pickles and wild mushroom sauce – a winner all year round.
Tell us something no one knows about you?
I like to sing when I’m alone cooking.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years’ time?
Making Spanish food and flavours available to more Australians.