For a celebrity chef, Dani Garcia is extremely humble. Though he runs the critically acclaimed two-Michelin star restaurant Calima, in Marbella, Spain, and the modern New York City tapas bar, Manzanilla, Garcia is mostly content to play with and learn about his favorite subject: food.
Originally from Marbella, Garcia enrolled in cooking school at the age of 17 and became an apprentice for internationally recognized Spanish chef Martin Berasategui. At the age of 24, after taking over the kitchens at Tragabuches, a restaurant in the Spanish mountain town of Ronda, Garcia received his first Michelin star. He then moved onto Calima, a restaurant Garcia affectionately calls "his baby", and settled into his modern Spanish style of cooking.
Now, with seven-month-old Manzanilla, located in the Flatiron district in Manhattan, Garcia is showing the American world what Andalusian – and Spanish – cooking is all about. The cultural origin of some dishes may be easy to see, but the menu was created to suit the way New Yorkers conceive of eating tapas, which is much different from the way one goes from bar to bar in the south of Spain.
On the menu, you'll find Garcia’s favorites: oxtail montadito, cuttlefish croquettes, and fried branzino, all modern takes on classics. His favorite ingredient? “Tomatoes,” he says. “I can do a lot with them.” And while cooking is a creative process, Garcia prides himself on the technique. “Developing a new dish is really work,” he explains. Like a designer creating a new collection, Garcia wants all the elements of a new menu to complement each other. “I think a restaurant is like theater,” he remarks, emphasizing that every performance must be excellent.
Next, Garcia talks about his network of colleagues and shares a recipe from Manzanilla...