an Interview with Sebastian Gavira
Executive Chef Sebastian Gavira, Real Club Valderrama, Andalucia, Spain. Recipe on right | Red Tuna Tartare
GK: Sebastian, you have been here for 20 years or more. You must love it!
Right, I have been working here for a long time. When I started here, it was named Las Aves, and it was changed to Real Club Valderrama around the time it was purchased by Jaime Ortiz-Patiño in 1985. At that time, I was in charge of catering for all the tournaments, including the Ryder Cup and the Andalucia Masters. In 2000 I was promoted to Executive Chef, so I have seen many changes in the time I’ve been here.
Before Valderrama, I worked in France at the Michelin-starred restaurant Le Taillevent, and I mastered French techniques, but I prefer cooking the local Spanish cuisine using traditional techniques.
GK: Tell us what inspired your passion for cooking.
My father had a great love for cooking. We grew up in a tiny house in San Martín del Tesorillo (Cádiz), but we had a lot of livestock, and we grew and raised everything we ate, from pigs to potatoes. I know it sounds funny, but even though we were not wealthy, we ate as if we were. I learned a lot about natural flavors and how most foods should taste.
When I served in the Spanish military, I wanted to work in the kitchen. I thought that my career would be in the army, but I soon realized that my dream was to be a chef, because I wanted to be more creative with the cuisine. That is when I decided to come to work in Andalucia.
GK: What is your style of cuisine?
I prefer to cook the traditional and natural cuisine of this region. Our local produce is magnificent, and the seafood is abundant. I enjoy finding the best fish possible, and the tuna in this region is particularly outstanding, and a favorite of many of the members.
If you asked me what my favorite thing to cook is, I would always say fish. It’s very easy to ruin, but when I have cooked it correctly to retain its flavor, I know I have achieved something special. I try to prepare and deliver great fish with minimal seasoning so that the members and guests can appreciate the natural taste of the meat.
GK: How do you create your menus here?
I work with our General Manager, Javier, to create the menus. We have to make sure our members from all over the world have whatever they desire. Many want familiar foods from their homeland, but many come here for the regional cuisine, and our menu reflects that.
During the spring and summer, the members often ask me to cook in their homes. I enjoy creating a menu for them that pleases them, and it is very rewarding to see the smiles on their faces.
GK: What do you do in your free time?
I enjoy visiting and dining at the local restaurants, especially when a new one opens. I am always searching for new ways to cook the local cuisine, and often find new inspiration from the local chefs.
Recipe by Sebastian Gavira, Executive Chef at Real Club Valderrama. Image by Diana DeLucia.
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