DUBAI EXPAT STORIES. Executive Chef Antonio Santos would have been a civil engineer but the mayonnaise experience was…

Executive Chef Antonio Santos, who hails from Sevilla in Spain, had a career choice between one in the culinary or being a civil engineer – but it seems his mayonnaise experience got the better part of him.

Here’s the story: “When I was an eight-year-old kid, I saw a TV program called World Class Cuisine, where I saw Chef Pedro Subihana, who has three Michelin stars, making white asparagus with fresh mayonnaise and Iberian ham. 

“At that time, I didn’t know that you can make mayonnaise. So, it was like a magician for me, a game changer; and the neighbors were soon eating free fresh mayonnaise for a week because I couldn’t stop making mayonnaise. 

“Actually I had a scholarship to study civil engineering, but I saw the opportunity to go also to a culinary school and I took it. So, in the mornings I would go to the culinary school and in the evenings, to the university for the engineering course – and it went like that for the next three years.

“But six months before I finish the university, I received a call from Akelarre Restaurant and I left everything.”

The restaurant is run by Chef Chef Pedro Subihana.

Chef Antonio says it is tough to only say one thing about what he loves most about his work.

“When our guests try our food and give that happy face with a huge smile or those moments when you surprise them and they were happy, those are the things I love most about my job. 

“Because sometimes people think that Spanish cuisine is only tapas and paella. You need to explain to them that there’s a lot of delicious and tasty Spanish dishes. We think of ways to enhance the experience by upgrading what we have and to create new things for special requests or new things in the menu,” he said. 

His advice to those dreaming of becoming a chef someday: “Don’t rush any preparations. Good food needs time, patience and love. That’s why everyone like their mothers’ food, because they make it with love for you. 

“It doesn’t matter how cheap or expensive the food is. It’s the ingredients that you are cooking. It’s about how you prepare it. I always prefer a good sardine, than a bad foie gras.” 

Chef Antonio is executive chef at  Asador de Aranda,  a world-renowned restaurant located at the Address Downtown which recently celebrated its first successful year of sharing the most delectable and authentic Spanish cuisine with the UAE. 

Asador de Aranda, or for non-Spanish savvy readers the Rotisserie of Aranda, combines traditional and modern Spanish gastronomy, serving a variety of roasted dishes to the likes of both meat fans and vegetarians. It is a family-run business established in 1983, gaining a superior reputation for its traditional cooking methods, some dating back to 4000BC, which maintains the essence of true Spanish cuisine. 

Executive Chef Antonio Santos has run several Michelin-starred restaurants and has worked alongside the likes of Heston Blumenthal and Gordon Ramsay guaranteeing unmatched quality, the finest food Spain has to offer. 


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