Country : Spain
Restaurant : Dani García
“Today is still always”, wrote Machado. If we were to transmute this aphoristic quote into a riddle, García’s answer would be a given: THE KITCHEN. This is what he does today, now, still and always: cook. As solipsistic in his work as the poet is in his.
And the gods of pleasure would approve of the way he practices his craft; he would be hired for the kitchens of Olympus without hesitation. García was born with this gift and this calling and, fortunately for those who taste the interpretation of his dreams, managed to make it into his dedication, his profession and his life. He lives for it. Two ingredients are a must in the great recipe of life in the kitchen: the first is that God-given gift, of having been born to do it, having the grace, touch, magic, and sensitivity of a natural chef. The second, as Picasso said, “has to find you working”: put in the work, tirelessly, and the gods will help those who help themselves. This is the ultimate truth of the restaurant industry, a permanent devotion to the job; this profession demands ongoing and daily personal sacrifice, it requires that one gives fully of oneself. There are many aspects, too many variations and variables, which keep those who want to be on top and stay there from resting on their laurels.
This is the what’s what of Dani García today. Just a few months after reinventing himself and moving to another location in Marbella, his inseparable and beloved birthplace, the recreation of his kitchen fills his time and space (now, always, yet). He has subdivided, divided, and halved his quasi unlimited creativity at the Hotel Puente Romano: Dani García Restaurant and Bibo Andalussian Brasserie & Tapas.
And the truth is that both restaurants together represent the full character of their chef, his understanding of life and cuisine, his dichotomy and eternal contradiction. On one hand is his irrepressible gluttonous side, the one that prepares finger-licking garlic prawns, the chop and seafood, pizza and Peking duck, sushi and tiraditos (a dish of raw fish), a thousand dishes of fried piparra peppers, early morning tejeringos (Andalusian-style churros) espetos (fish kebabs) and fried fish. And on the other hand, the exquisite and sublime, the elegant and delicate enblanco (a fish stew) of a gastro bar prepared to perfection, reinterpreting the tomatoes in a pipirrana to the extreme, reinventing cold soups on a daily basis, redirecting his Asian leanings towards the Mediterranean with a sideways glance at mother France to create the best Andalusian cuisine, the finest, as never before prepared and interpreted: native, foreign, slow and shifting, amusing and cheerful, dancing, historical, traditional, mixed and elegant. Because Andalusia, with its modern Andalusians, has always known how to live. But he is still striving to add fine dining and noble cuisine to that knowledge, not that other, simpler food which we have honed to perfection, more suited to Cervantes’ Sancho Panza. Dani is the nexum gastronomiae between both worlds.
Returning to the poet Machado, he would say that the culinary work of Dani García is, in short, a compilation of the character of our land’s folklore and nature, properly understood and valued as the root and source of authentic Málaga and Andalusian cuisine, in order to elevate it, through the ethics of full dedication and tireless work —step by step, via the path of education in service of cuisine, “school and larder”— to levels of mastery achievable only with his natural imagination and creative fantasy. García carves his own path as he goes thanks his seamless efforts to be himself and to remember this illustrious gift of his dreams, thus gradually giving meaning and consistency to his cuisine, dishes in which we recognise and discover Andalusia.
2 Michelin Stars