Q&A: Michelin chef Juan Amador
Ahead of the opening of his Amador Restaurant and Cellar at the Park Rotana Abu Dhabi, three-starred Michelin chef Juan Amador took time out to catch up with Caterer…
Are you looking forward to the opening of Amador in Abu Dhabi?
Yes, very much. It will mix a variety of cultures, flavours and aromas – combining characteristics of my existing cuisine and also what I learned about local tastes, products and ingredients when I visited last year.
Abu Dhabi is now full of great restaurants, but I think our Spanish-influenced avant-garde cuisine can have a very positive influence on the emirate’s culinary scene.
Is this your only Middle East venture?
No, this is not our only venture in the Middle East. We plan to open four more restaurants together with Rotana Hotels in the region. But it was important to open in Abu Dhabi first, the home of Rotana Hotels.
What do you think of the Middle East’s F&B sector?
It has become more and more up to international standard and has already very good restaurants.
Have you had any challenges setting up the restaurant here that you wouldn’t have had in Europe?
The only challenge was to adjust the recipes as some of the ingredients cannot be used in this part of the world. Otherwise, Rotana has been a perfect partner for the region and has made it easy for us to get all the ingredients and equipment to Abu Dhabi to build such a fantastic restaurant.
How will the restaurant differ from your other Amador restaurant?
Each restaurant is adapted to the region and the guests, so every restaurant has its own character.
What are your favorite three ingredients to cook with?
There are no favourite three ingredients. If you reduce to some ingredients you reduce the creativity of your kitchen.
What food trend will be big in 2012? Are there any techniques we should know about?
We are in the fourth or even fifth episode of the nouvelle cuisine. There will be new products, new techniques, the world gets smaller and the regional cuisine will adopt the techniques and we will all prosper from this. One day there will be the world kitchen where you can get everything at anytime anywhere.
What is the biggest challenge for chefs today and why?
Never stop and never rest. Otherwise you will not get better anymore. Basically you have to build a team which creates a philosophy. Without a team you are alone and can do nothing.
What are the three things that have led you to success, and why?
Curiosity, perfection and concentration at all times. The guests need to be curious to visit our restaurant, the food and service needs to be perfect, and we need to fully concentrate every day to maintain the high quality of our standards.
What’s been the most valuable lesson you’ve learnt in your career?
It is not important who you are, it is important what you do.
If you could cook for anyone, who would it be, what would you create, and why?
I would cook for King Juan Carlos I from Spain, Ferran Adria [Catalan former head chef of elBulli restaurant], the singer Bono from U2, and the former German Minister of Foreign Affairs, Joschka Fischer. I would create a surprise menu featuring all the signature dishes of my kitchen to make sure they never forget our outstanding food.
What would you be if you weren’t a chef ?
A pilot or photographer because I love flying and to shoot nice pictures.