Michelin chef Ricardo Sotres mixes food and LaLiga football in Dubai

Spanish maestro enjoys UAE’s variety as he sets up celebration of Asturias and LaLiga


David Light

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Published: Thu 16 Sep 2021, 2:26 AM

Last updated: Tue 21 Sep 2021, 10:17 AM

There are two life essentials in which the Spanish excel: food and football. But what happens when you place the passions together? Enter the second edition of the Spanish Extravaganza Gastronomic Festival by premier Iberian soccer division LaLiga in the UAE today and tomorrow. Set across two Dubai properties, Michelin chef Ricardo Sotres of El Retiro restaurant situated in Asturias in the northwest of Spain has put together menus inspired by Real Sporting and Real Oviedo, the two Asturian football teams that play in the league. The unmissable collaboration will pop-up tonight at Dukes The Palm and on Friday at Occidental Al Jaddaf’s new authentic Spanish restaurant Carmen in the form of evening and midday brunches respectively.

We spoke with the main man to find out just what exactly he has in store.

What can people expect from this weekend? How can football teams inspire food?

We are looking forward to showcasing Spanish gastronomy in the UAE and want people to have a unique experience discovering more about Spanish gastronomy in general and the Asturian cuisine in particular. Football and food have a strong correlation because football is about emotion and passion, and so is gastronomy. As a reference, Jordi Roca, the pastry-chef of the Celler, the legendary three-starred Catalan restaurant, once created a signature dish named “How does it taste -  a goal from Messi?” The 22 Tapas created for the Spanish Extravaganza Festival are inspired by LaLiga football clubs and the region they belong to in Spain. For example, inspired by the city of Oviedo in Asturias, we created the Real Oviedo Tapa, with osmotised apple and cider.

What is it like teaming up with such a recognisable brand as LaLiga and bringing the collaboration to Dubai?

I am proud to partner with LaLiga and provide their massive fan base in the UAE with a truly unique experience based on their favourite teams. The UAE consists of extremely passionate football fans, in particular Spanish football. Dubai is one of the top destinations in the world, known for its cultural diversity and attractive leisure activities, which makes the occasion even more exciting, and enjoyable. Personally, I am sure the experience will be unforgettable.

To those unaware, how do you describe Asturian cuisine?

The basis of the Asturian cuisine is seafood derived from the enriched Cantabrian Sea, which provides extraordinary water quality and ideal temperatures. Gastronomy has been a part of Asturian culture for centuries, which encompasses love and passion. The Asturias has a lot to offer, from the mountains that make the products from the local orchard to the coastal delicacies, creating an extraordinary experience not to be missed. This can be experienced across the board from high-end restaurants, to family-run restaurants and ‘Sidrerias’. It is this gastronomic cultural experience that we want to bring to Dubai.

If you had to prepare one dish to introduce your type of cooking, what would it be?

A dish that is a combination of the sea and mountain, inspired by the Asturian landscape where I get my inspiration from. At Asturias, the sea and mountains co-exist in a wonderful environment. For example, one of the most popular dishes I created is Red Fabes Beans Consome, Pigeon Breast, Smoked Eel and Grilled Corn, the perfect mixture to taste the natural beauty of the Asturias!

Which dream guests would you most like to cook for and why?

I would try to bring together to the table four very influential people coming from totally different backgrounds, representing culture, sports, art and politics. I would chose, for example, the Pope and Michael Jordan. The idea would be to create an ideal relaxed atmosphere to create a conversation and just interact with each other.

How important is social media in the restaurant world today, or does the food still speak for itself?

Social media is an important platform to connect with guests, but in my opinion, it is especially important to create awareness about new restaurants and new aspiring chefs. On the other hand, as a consumer I believe we are overexposed to social media and there is an overload of information that kills a bit of the “magic ”and the “surprise” of the experience itself when at the restaurant.

What’s on offer?

What: Spanish Extravaganza Festival Football and Tapas

Date: Thursday, September 16 from 7pm-10pm

Venue: Great British Restaurant, Dukes The Palm

Price: From Dh249

What’s on offer?

And on Friday?

What: Spanish Extravaganza Festival Brunch

Date: Friday, September 17, from 12pm-4pm

Venue: Carmen Tapas Restaurant, Occidental Al Jaddaf

Price: From Dh249

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