I was very happy to be asked to write the introduction for the English language edition of Quique Dacosta’s new book. People are always asking me about Spain’s culinary scene. They want to know about the chefs who form the vanguard of the revolution they’ve heard so much about. They want to know what is next or who is next. I always tell them to take a look at Quique.
To me Quique Dacosta is quite simply one of the best chefs working in the world today. No one is a better example of the very exciting cooking taking place in restaurants across Spain. Quique is part of the next generation of vanguard chefs who continue to push us and take us to new places. Young chefs who have been inspired by the new concepts that came out of the kitchens of El Bulli, Arzak, and others. What can you say about a cook who makes a dish inspired by a walk in the forest? Quique aspires to and often achieves poetry on the plate. All of that poetry while having a very firm handle on technique and tradition.
At his restaurant El Poblet in Denia in the region of Valencia, Quique creates beautiful, elegant fantasies inspired by the Mediterranean, the surrounding countryside and local produce. Valencia is in the heart of Levante, the southeastern coast of Spain. It is rich in produce from the land and the sea. It is a place where rice grows very well, the famous short-grained rices used in paella. Taking advantage of this abundance, the cooks of Valencia developed a cooking tradition that highlights the wonderful rice, vegetables, seafood and more of the region.
Quique is interesting to me because what he does in many ways is very local, very much about where he is, the local produce, the local traditions. He is a master at cooking the traditional rices of the region. However, that is not to say that Quique is limited to the traditional. Not at all. What he does is pull from the land, pull from tradition and build on them. Quique’s cooking is at once local and universal, of here and of everywhere.
This book and the accompanying website present us with a unique opportunity to see what is going on inside Quique’s head, to see how this talented chef works, to see how his vision is made real at his restaurant El Poblet. Only someone as creative as Quique would attempt a project like this. A book is eternal but ultimately somewhat disconnected from the author. The website somehow provides you with a more immediate connection to the author. It is a way of putting you by Quique’s side. This book is for anyone interested in what is happening on Spain’s culinary scene, for anyone who loves food, for anyone eager to see what happens inside the mind of a world-class chef.
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