«El Faro’s own recipes are already traditional»

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CadizUpdated:
04/30/2024 9:40 p.m.

The Lighthouse of Cádiza gastronomic icon in the history of the city, celebrated its 60th anniversary with an exclusive party for those who have been the soul of the restaurant: its workers. In an exclusive interview with Mario Jimenez Cordoba, kitchen director and grandson of the founders, we discover the details of this memorable occasion and the secret of its success over all these years.

brought together family, current employees, former collaborators and those who, although they are no longer physically in the restaurant, left an indelible mark on El Faro. According to Jiménez Córdoba, the decision to focus the celebration on the team was a way to honor their dedication and commitment, since they are the ones who give life to the restaurant day by day. “It is the family that we ultimately see every day, with whom we spend the most time.”

For the kitchen director, being part of this milestone in the gastronomic history of Cádiz is a great pride and responsibility which he assumes with joy and a sense of belonging. “Every day you have to work hard, you have to trust the team and I feel very happy, lucky and very grateful to belong to it.”

From its humble beginnings as a small tavern serving fried fish and fish stews, El Faro’s cuisine has undergone a remarkable evolution in its 60-year history. Jiménez Córdoba attributes this progress to teamwork and the dedication for maintain the essence of Cadiz cuisine, using mainly local ingredients, respecting “traditional” recipes and bringing innovations to the menu. «El Faro’s own recipes are already traditional, it is no longer that they are traditional from Cádiz, when a restaurant is 60 years old, they are also traditional from your own home. I think we have to maintain that sign, try to make the dishes cleaner, the flavors more authentic, try to remove all kinds of makeup, be it sauces, dressings, which from my point of view do not suit the product or do not stand out or enhance the quality of the product we have here, and recover classics or dishes that had never been in the history of El Faro, on our menu, such as the fried brunette in adobo.

Between the most emblematic dishes that identify El Faro de Cádiz are the dressed potatoesthe shrimp omelette and the roteña fish stew, which reflect the essence of the clean and fresh gastronomy that the restaurant offers. «When you try our aliñás potatoes, you understand that you are in El Faro. I have tried great dressed potatoes in other places, but ours have our own way of doing it, and I think that differentiates us, neither better nor worse, but rather it differentiates us and gives us that personality.

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Furthermore, Jiménez Córdoba highlights the crucial role of fish in its culinary proposal, working in close collaboration with local markets, but also with national products, thus guaranteeing the quality of all its dishes. “At El Faro we are clear that if the best clams, razor clams or sea urchins are somewhere else, we will go look for them there.”

Regarding new culinary trends, the chef mentions the incorporation of ingredients such as garum flower. “For me, an ingredient without which I cannot conceive our cuisine today is the garum flower, which Arqueogastronomía develops with the of Cádiz.”

With new additions or respecting traditions, the restaurant has known how maintain your Cádiz identity on every plate, as evidenced by its menu ‘Cádiz al Cuadrado’, which highlights local flavors and traditions. «Our menu starts with a tuna banderilla and payoyo cheeseand a tuna muffin in butter. End with a panna cotta with a creamy chocolate spread with fine spices, a mixture of spices that was used in the past, hundreds of years ago in Cádiz, to season different sauces for fish and meat. We use it in a dessert that has cloves, cinnamon, pepper and saffron. With that beginning and end, you can now see everything there is about Cádiz on our menu.

As for the wine offering, El Faro has constantly worked to evolve a menu that, although it highlights local wines to the maximum, with a emphasis on pasture wines, also has room for wines from the rest of Andalusia, Spain and foreign labels. “Our letter defends the local wines, the wines from the framework, the pasture wines, the calm whites that now it seems that people are beginning to understand them much more, because in the end it is the origin, it is the purest thing we have. For us, these grass-fed wines are the cornerstone of the project, it is practically what we defend by the glass in the restaurant.

Maite Córdoba, mother of Mario Jiménez

If we ask the chef about the future of the restaurant, he is clear that it lies in taking care of the excellence, rhythm and diversity of his culinary proposal, maintaining a balance between tradition and innovation. «From my mother I learned to be an ant, to have a lot of left hand, to always look out for the team and to give it a lot of love. To always treat the client closely and with affection, and also to be patient. We have achieved so much that what we want is to stay at cruising speed and not run. “To continue celebrating his birthday and to be able to see him working in the kitchen at El Faro.”

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