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Interview: ‘It’s not a bad option’ Paco Perez on opening a restaurant in Dubai

The 40-year culinary veteran was recently in Dubai for a pop-up event at Boca

Chef patron of two-Michelin starred Miramar in the Spanish seaside town of Llançà, Paco Perez is known for combining tradition and technique in the dishes that have made him a household name. We speak to the celebrated chef about the evolution of the regional culinary scene and whether a Dubai restaurant is on the cards after his stint at Boca.

Connecting Travel: How would you describe your culinary style?
Paco Perez: I cook the way that I think. My team and I always cook with the main ingredients in mind and we use them in an ethical way. After 40 years of cooking, perseverance, continuously working on creativity and a little bit of luck are the three key ingredients that make us better every day because cooking is a learning process.

The chef's interpretation of tapas Perez’s tapas

CT: You’re in Dubai to collaborate with other restaurants? What made you decide to do this collaboration?
PP: Travelling is important when it comes to learning about new cultures and discovering new places. Travel has always been a source of inspiration and also a way to give back. I know that many chefs in Dubai cook Mediterranean cuisine so it made sense for me to come here.

CT: What was the inspiration behind the dishes that you are serving in Dubai?
PP: An example of one of the dishes I served that has an inspirational story is potato and caviar. This is a very simple dish that was eaten by ordinary families all over the world and was elevated to a higher dimension because of the use of caviar, which in the past was an ingredient of fishermen. 

Potatoes and caviar Perez’s potato and caviar

CT: Are there any flavours, ingredients or techniques from the Middle East that have inspired you?
PP: Generally, I’m inspired by the Spanish Mediterranean cuisine, however, it’s always interesting to learn about the Arabic techniques, flavours and ingredients to be able to share them with people who cannot travel.

CT: Having visited Dubai a few times, what’s your assessment of its F&B scene?
PP: Dubai is in a good position at the moment because many chefs and restaurants have opened here, and this is creating great opportunities for new chefs to learn from them and enhance local cuisine.

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CT: The inaugural MENA’s 50 Best restaurants list was announced in February and next month the Michelin guide will arrive in Dubai. What importance do these lists have on the local dining scene?
PP: These lists are positive because they are a voice to the outside world. They create opportunities for the restaurant to show its competence.

MENA’s 50 Best and Michelin will have a positive impact on the culinary scene of the region

CT: You’ve experienced incredible success throughout your career. What’s your secret?
PP: I love my job and I try to share this feeling with my team and my guests. It’s important that the team loves what they do too, and that the customers are happy to enjoy the food and are open to a wonderfully memorable experience.

CT: Would you ever open a restaurant in Dubai?
PP: It’s not a bad option.

For more information, visit www.boca.ae and www.restaurantmiramar.com/en/paco-perez 

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