As Anfi Restaurants get ready for a busy New Year’s Eve we speak to Juan Antonio Navarro, chef at the Anfi’s Puerto Vista Restaurant
Juan Antonio Navarro, executive chef of the Anfi Group, argues in favour of the quality cuisine in this interview. Navarro, who started in the kitchen when he was just fourteen years old, began his career in Hecansa as protégé of Benito Benitez and worked in Barcelona restaurants such as Via Benetto, Neichel and the Can Fabes, alongside the late Santi Santamaria.
”The Canaries represent a gastronomic paradise that we have to promote more”
Is a chef is born or made …?
A chef is made to reach the remarkable but is born to achieve the outstanding. To gain full marks you must work hard, do everything very well and be born to be a chef.
Is there room for improvisation in the kitchen or should everything be measured to the millimetre?
All artists improvise and therein lies their success. A good chef is an artist and when he or she cooks in an organized fashion and masters good techniques – magical things can be achieved. Many of the best dishes in history were created through improvisation or by accident.
Is the secret in the preparation and the quality of the product to give it a real taste?
Even the worst cook in the world can prepare a good meal with a skewer of fresh hake. We chefs make good food using good products. If we don’t have good products, the finished dish won’t be good.
To what extent has cuisine been transformed in the transition from traditional recipes to avant-garde cuisine?
What is now classical cuisine used to be modern and and what is modern nowadays won’t be in a few years. I think the important thing is to be true to the basics of cooking.
The aspiring chef is more fashionable than ever …
It all started in France in 1960 by a chef named Paul Bocusse who revolutionized French cuisine making it a more natural diet, considerably reducing sugar and cream content whilst being increasingly concerned with the aesthetics of the dishes. This movement was called Nouvelle Cuisine and it was continued by other renowed chefs such as Chapel, Troisgros, Outhier, who did a lot of good.
Why have you opted to open a restaurant in the south of Gran Canaria and in Anfi?
Simply because Anfi is a jewel of tourism. It is synonymous with quality, where I feel fulfilled offering quality food to quality customers in the Puerto Vista restaurant.
What standard do you consider the cuisine of the Canary Islands to be?
The Canaries are a culinary reference point in Spain and Europe. We have great standard of chefs although it’s true that the Canarian cuisine is little publicised because we have cared more about selling the ‘sun and sand’ than gastronomy despite having excellent raw materials such as our fish, cheeses and wines. The key is to promote ourselves more. The Canaries represent a culinary paradise and we have an obligation to make the world aware of this.
To what extent is related good food with high prices?
A few years ago the country was living in a “gastronomical bubble”, there was no crisis, there was a boom of people wanting to be fashionable chefs, without a good foundation or knowledge and live a lie was the objective. Their dream was to open restaurants, fashion, vulgarity, or however you want to call. Places where strange food was prepared, that not even they themselves were eating and where they made customers believe that 25 grams of sardines well displayed on Raynaud Tableware, had the same value as 25 grams of Imperial Sevruga caviar Petrossian. And of course in a time without crisis and speculation when people earned easy money and spent it easily too – the majority of people were the victims of this disaster and gastronomically confusion.
What has Santi Santamaría, with whom you’ve worked, contributed to gastronomy ?
He has contributed a lot. He was a great chef and director of prestigious restaurants worldwide. He was the first Catalan chef to get the 3 Michelin stars at his restaurant Can Fabes and the first Spaniard to get 7 stars amongst his restaurants. Through his work he still continues to contribute.
We highly recommend the Puerto Vista New Year’s Eve Gala Menu and especially the delicious Scallops Stuffed with Russian King Crab Chatka in Moet & Chandon sauce au gratin.