A couple of weeks ago I had the wonderful opportunity to speak with Spanish chef, José Andrés. From his recently opened Beverly Hills restaurant, The Bazaar, at the SLS Hotel to his PBS television show to his new cookbook, Made in Spain: Spanish Dishes For the American Kitchen, the chef has had a very busy end of 2008. He's opinionated, proud, and incredibly creative — Spanish master Ferran Adriá was his mentor. To find out what the chef had to say about his book and what he thinks of Mario Batali and Gwyneth Paltrow's televised trip around his native country,
PartySugar: Tell me about the book.
José Andrés: It's a great book. I love to work on my books. Especially this one — every photo was shot in my house. The reason for the book is the television show. I'm trying to show America Spain. I want to get into the house of everyone who will let me in and show them Spanish cooking authentically.
PS: What's one Spanish dish you would recommend for the American home cook?
JA: To really bring the spirit of Spain into your house make toasted bread with good garlic. Rub the warm toasted bread with fresh tomatoes. Top with manchego cheese. It's the best option, you can make it for breakfast, lunch, dinner, whenever.
PS: What Spanish ingredients are must haves for the American kitchen?
JA: Spanish olive oil. It's the best. Piquillo peppers. Tuna packed in Spanish olive oil.
PS: What's your guilty pleasure food?
JA: I try to be a good role model for my young daughters and not commit too many crimes, but once in a while, I do have too many gin and tonics. Bombay Sapphire is my favorite. Some of my mixology friends think I don't have any refinement, but I don't care.
PS: When in the states, what do you most miss about Spain?
JA: The fish markets. America is very big, the fishing markets aren't right there. Barcelona is such a great fishing port with little fisherman who wake up in the morning early to get fish. Here, there are fisherman, but it's not the same freshness. Really good fresh fish is not as readily available for the average Joe. At the end, it is the ingredients that define the cooking of a country.
PS: Being a Spaniard, what do you think of the portrayal of your country in Mario Batali and Gywneth Paltrow's Spain on the Road Again?
JA: Well I can tell you my show was the first show that showed Spain to the Americas. The other show — I am very proud that they are highlighting my country. Anyone that is doing, telling anything to promote Spain is good. It only helps me on my mission. I have a very great relationship with them. I'm very happy that they did it.