On the plates of Dani García, rich tradition and imaginative innovation come together. After studying at the La Cónsula Hospitality School in Málaga, the Marbella-born chef and entrepreneur rapidly became a household name in Spain’s lively culinary scene. Attracting international attention at the family-run Tragabuches, Dani received his first Michelin Star early on, followed by his second at Calima and third in 2018 at Dani García Restaurant.
In all aspects of his career, Dani promotes a gastronomy devoted to quality and excellence, whether cultivating an expert team spanning countries or publishing a ravishing cookbook with his signature flair. His most recent venture is the opening of the new BiBo restaurant within the characteristically luxurious Nobu Hotel Ibiza Bay, the renowned chain’s delectable resort sitting on Talamanca Bay, Ibiza. Consistently exceeding expectations, Dani’s culinary creations are homages to his vibrant Andalusian roots enhanced with exceptional ingenuity, beloved classics revitalized into brilliant contemporary works, capturing a story, a culture, a home, within a single dish.
You received your first Michelin star many years ago now – how have you managed the pressure since then to maintain the success?
I think just being motivated. I knew I wanted to achieve the third Michelin star so I worked hard, even with the pressure, to earn it, knowing that I could then “relax” and concentrate on taking my cuisine around the world.
How do you successfully balance running several restaurants across different countries?
My team. They know how everything is done and how I like it to be done, and we are always in contact to make sure that everything is going ok.
To what extent are your restaurants or menus informed by the specific character of the cities and cultures they are in?
BiBo for example stands out for its flexibility and ability to adapt to different locations. Whilst we do change the menu to suit different cities and cultures, such as Doha, we also maintain the essence and iconic dishes.
What was the most exciting part of the process in preparing your BiBo restaurant in Nobu Hotel Ibiza Bay?
Probably preparing the menu with my team and then seeing the reaction of the public.
Part of the BiBo Ibiza Bay menu is devoted to Mexican cuisine, which you developed with Abril Chamorro. How did this collaboration come about?
We were offered the opportunity to take our BiBo concept to Nobu Hotel and we couldn't say no. We wanted to give it a unique twist and it seemed perfect. I am a big fan of the diverse flavours and textures that the Mexican cuisine has, so it just made sense, especially having Abril in the team to share her expertise.
You’ve said that restaurants having an ‘expiration date’ could make guests enjoy their time there more fully. How have you encountered this idea in your own life?
I try to enjoy things to the fullest anyway, whether it’s something simple that I do every day, something new that I’m trying for the first time, or something that has an expiration date.
Which other senses or art forms stimulate your creativity when coming up with a dish?
Most of my dishes are created from my travels and things I have seen and enjoyed around the world.
How did you find the process of writing a cookbook different from developing a menu?
In a way, writing a cookbook is similar to writing a menu for a casual concept like BiBo, creating and choosing recipes that are accessible for everyone but I would say that the cookbook takes more time than the menu.
Is there a particular dish that has a nostalgic value or special meaning for you?
The dish that I remember from my childhood, “Cazuela de fideos” (noodle and mussel stew), that my mother used to make for me.
On your day off, what do you love to cook for yourself or your family?
My daughter really loves mac n cheese so this is a dish we cook a lot at home.
From what or who do you draw your greatest inspiration?
With regards to being a chef, Nobu and Joël Robuchon. I admire the ability that both have had to take their kitchen and business model around the world and they have strongly influenced my time in this industry.
Your work has taken you all over the world. What’s your favourite city? And what are the top 5 spots in this city you’d recommend to your best friend when he or she’s in town?
I am lucky enough to have travelled a lot and any of my dishes are inspired by the cities or countries that I have visited, but for me, there is no city like Marbella, my home town. I would recommend long walks along the seafront and the pier at Marbella Club, the mountain areas and routes like visiting La Concha and of course, eating in BiBo, Leña and Lobito de Mar.
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Interview: Raffaele Castelli