Omar Allibhoy is a great example of how having vision, nerve, initiative and an entrepreneurial character can be immensely satisfying. This Spanish chef has managed to become one of the United Kingdom’s most renowned culinary professionals, and all without featuring in a single best restaurant guide...
Omar is currently running his two hugely successful Tapas Revolution venues based at the Westfield and Bluewater shopping malls in the British capital. He is the brains behind a brand new tapas bar concept: eateries that remain open all day, serving breakfast, mid-morning coffee, lunch and dinner during mall opening hours. The food on offer includes 100% Spanish tapas and portions, using first-class ingredients shipped over from Spain and proving that tapas can be healthy, tasty and fun.
Before launching his Tapas Revolution venture (for which he obtained support from local investors, proving the extent of the commercial interest aroused by Spanish cooking in the British market), much of Omar’s early career was spent in the kitchens at London restaurant El Pirata Detapas.
But soon he began to nurture the idea of setting up his own business and Tapas Revolution was born. The concept comes from one of Omar’s pet obsessions: telling British consumers about how great Spanish cooking is and how easily they can prepare a lunch, dinner or party menu based on authentic Spanish tapas.
To get this idea across to the public, Omar Allibhoy and his friend Daniel Campos Sancho embarked on an unusual adventure in the summer of 2010: they traveled around most of the country by motorbike and cooked Spanish tapas wherever anyone let them.
For two weeks and on a 125cc motorbike, this young man based in London delighted everyone he met with Spanish food, in places like Anfield football stadium (home to the Liverpool football team), a Manchester park and the city’s university, plus Beckett’s Fish restaurant in Cleethorpes, where they replaced traditional fish and chips with Calamares fritos (fried squid rings) and Merluza a la romana acompañada con alioli y patatas con pimentón (hake served with alioli and potatoes with Spanish ground red pepper).
Some of their stops were quite surreal. For example, the barbecue at Alyson’s house in Sheffield, where they had Pinchos morunos (Moorish kebabs) and a refreshing Salmorejo (chilled tomato and bread soup). Near Nuneaton, at a typically English pub called The Fox Inn, they captivated customers with Albóndigas con tomate (meatballs in tomato sauce) and Pollo al ajillo (garlic chicken).
News of the adventures of these two modern-day Quixotes spread like wildfire and they earned the admiration of all the people they met, who were required only to provide a healthy appetite, a plate and cutlery. With generous helpings of imagination and guided by traditional recipes, Omar and Daniel invited them to try potato chips omelet, Fabada (bean stew), salads with chorizo, tomate y cebolla (chorizo sausage, tomato and onion) and a hearty Bacalao en salsa verde (cod in green sauce).
Following the road trip, Omar set up his two venues in London, which have become firm favorites with many of the city’s foodies.
- Tapas Revolution (Ebury Press, 2013)
- International Tapas Competition 2017 (Madrid Tapas Academy)
- Young Entrepreneur of the Year 2015 (The British Travel & Hospitality Hall of Fame)