José Andrés in Puerto Rico 2015. Photo courtesy of Viajes&Vinos
11 Nov 2015
Relaxed culinary lessons and tastings in the Caribbean.
Throughout an exciting week-end, Spain’s best known chef in the Americas offered a tropical twist to the foods from Spain.
Author: Rosa María González Lamas/©ICEX
The tent setting ressembled those that frame outdoor weddings, yet the altar was a demo kitchen and the ceremony a consecration of the culinary romance between Spanish chef José Andrés and his many foodie fans from Puerto Rico and North America who joined him for a culinary demonstration next to the blue and warm waters of the Atlantic Ocean and the golden sun and sand of Dorado Beach-A Ritz-Carlton Reserve Resort, home of Mi Casa by José Andrés restaurant, which welcomed the successful first Culinary Getaway Spain’s best known chef in the Americas hosted in the Pearl of the Caribbean.
Fun was the essential ingredient of the recipe of friendship, relax and success the Spanish chef shared on stage with Puerto Rican Chef José Enrique, who joined him for a culinary match around pineapple which José Andrés shaped in many manners, including several that granted a tropical twist to the foods from Spain.
A dressing made of Spanish extra virgin olive oil and Sherry vinegar served as foundation for several of these recipes, helping balance the pineapple sweetness with the vinegar’s acidity.
Caviar and pineapple found an innovative partnership in a fruit montadito, drizzled with that vinaigrette seasoning and sprinkled with pimentón. “Please call pimentón, pimentón, not paprika,” said the chef to the enthusiastic audience of guests who joined him, José Enrique and celebrity chefs Eric Ripert and Anthony Bourdain in this epicurean adventure in the torrid tropics.
The EVOO and Sherry vinegar dressing also contributed to a better assemblage of the flavors of pineapple and Iberico ham, seasoned with a pinch of black pepper. José Andrés prepared a plated version of this concept and also served guests as a sort of lollipop skewer in which Iberico ham wrapped this sweet tropical fruit.
Gazpacho was the inspiration for another of the Getaway’s recipes, a lobster salpicón, in which the chef created a sort of mayonnaise with the EVOO and vinegar dressing, putting it at the bottom of the plate, which he later constructed with miniature dices of pepper, tomato and cucumber, and pieces of Caribbean lobster which he crowned with microgreens and more olive oil.
The culinary class ranged between a culinary demonstration and a stand-up comedy as a barefoot José Andrés mastered not only the art of cooking, but also of that of skillfully triggering the button that turned on the excitement of the audience, composed of dozens of customers of his restaurants in the United States who joined him in Puerto Rico, and other loyal Island visitors who found in the chef’s spice a savory excuse to pay a new visit to this Caribbean destination.
Preluding this fun cooking lesson which was recorded for TV, guests of the hotel and locals enjoyed a Paella Night hosted by José Andrés, Ramón Martínez, Executive Chef of all Jaleo Restaurants, and the staff of Mi Casa by José Andrés, who prepared vegetarian, lobster, and veal and cheek paella versions to delight a dining audience extended to local residents. José Andrés also was one of four stars in a gala dinner event, for which he created some liquid olives and spider crab buns as appetizers, and an ajo blanco with Norweigan lobster and fresh porcini as his signature dish. Ripert, Bourdain and José Enrique each presented a culinary creation at this special gala.
The exclusive sybarite agenda of this debuting Culinary Getaway also featured interactive demonstrations, tastings and a BBQ event which brought together chefs from Ritz-Carlton with three rising Puerto Rican chefs stars: Christian Quiñones, Xavier Pacheco and Enrique Piñeiro. Pacheco trained in Spain with Chef Angel Palacios, and Piñeiro at Can Fabes with Spanish Chef Santi Santamaría.
José Andrés helms Dorado Beach, A Ritz-Carlton Reserve’s signature restaurant Mi Casa by José Andrés, which opened in December 2012 offering fine dining choices through an amalgamation of Spanish and Puerto Rican cuisines. Business Insider recently included the restaurant among its indispensable once-in-a-lifetime dining experiences.
Just as the Three Tenors, Ripert, Bourdain and José Andrés will gather again next January for a stellar Caribbean culinary performance in the Cayman Islands.