Introducing The Spanish Chef - Omar Allibhoy
Now available at Whole Foods Market!
Whole Foods Market UK are proud to announce the launch of Omar Allibhoy’s Spanish inspired fresh foods in our stores across London.
Omar has launched eight new, flavour-packed Spanish inspired dishes which you can find on our hot bar and salad bars. Or shop our grocery aisles for Omar’s paella, perfectly packaged and portioned for you to take away and enjoy at home.
After opening his first restaurant in 2010, Omar has successfully spread his 'Tapas Revolution' throughout seven cities in the UK and has been dubbed the 'Antonio Banderas of cooking' by Gordon Ramsay. Omar is committed to being at the forefront of representing the wonderful produce of Spain in the UK and has been named as a 'crusader for Spanish food and culture' back in his home country.
You don't want to miss this!
Meet Omar Allibhoy
Born in Madrid, Omar Allibhoy trained with Ferran Adria before moving to London and working with Jason Atherton. He later became Head Chef at El Pirata Detapas in West London, quickly establishing it as one of London's best tapas restaurants and featured on Channel 4's Gordon Ramsay's Best Restaurant. Omar decided to put Tapas on the map, literally daubing a T for Tapas on the map of England, before setting out on his motorbike for two weeks, cooking for everyone he met along the way. The trip showed Omar that people around the country loved his simple and easy style of Spanish cooking and he came back with a new determination to keep bringing tapas to the people.
Tell us about yourself
I am 39 years young, from Madrid. I am living in London with my 3 children. I moved to the UK 18 years ago to learn English and work in good restaurants. I fell in love with the culture and made it my home. I love playing tennis, riding motorbikes and having friends at home. Fiestas on the weekend in our casa are a norm! I have just released my last book “Paella” which is a love letter to the dish a enjoy cooking the most and one I would love everyone to cook in their homes as part of their repertoire.
What inspired you to become a chef?
There was a number of factors that ultimately led me to decide at a very young age that I wanted to be a professional chef and have my own restaurants. My first ever memory is in the kitchen. My mum was cooking a Flan (a crème caramel), I was sitting in the floor admiring the action of her whisking the eggs, adding the ingredients and pouring them into a mould that was coated with the beautiful caramel I can still smell to this day. I always helped her in the kitchen, peeling vegetables, whisking eggs and doing basic and safe tasks. In my family we love gathering together and every weekend we would have lunch and spend the whole day together, playing with cousins, enjoying life and always surrounded by food.
I never wanted to be a football player or an astronaut, I always wanted to become a chef and to create restaurants where I can feed and take care of guest and make them feel as if they’re in my home.
What are your favourite Spanish foods and flavours, and why are these important to you?
What I love the most about Spanish cuisine is that it is so vast, rich and varied from region to region that still today, I haven’t tasted it all! The different soils and climates we have across our peninsula and islands give us a huge variety of produce, whether from the land or sea. If you put that together with the different communities and cultures that have roamed what constitutes Spain today: the original Iberians, Phoenicians, Romans, Christians, Moors and all the gastronomic possibilities that they brought with them, it’s no surprise that we have such vast differences in the way we eat from region to region.
We are spoiled with choice, flavour, aromas and techniques. Even styles of eating and how we enjoy tapas and what it means to us, sharing dishes with friends and family. It’s all about entertaining rather than sitting at opposite sides of the table. Even when we cook our famous large paellas, we share and eat them from the same pan which is placed at the centre of the table. Socialising is a huge aspect of our culture and the way we eat reflects it.
An important aspect of our dishes is it’s simplicity. As we enjoy the beautiful ingredients that have been blessed by the sun, and as such, we don’t like to dress them in excess. We let the main ingredients do the talking. But ingredients such as smoked paprika, Spanish rice, cumin, saffron, tomatoes, Spanish onions, garlic and of course extra virgin olive oil are non-negotiable, we use them generously all throughout our cooking.
“What I love the most about Spanish cuisine is that it is so vast, rich and varied from region to region that still today, I haven’t tasted it all.”
Can you tell us about your launch at Whole Foods?
I wanted to bring my little corner of Spain to Whole Foods Market. Together with the expert team, we have created recipes we would certainly enjoy in a Spanish home any given day this Summer. All my new Spanish recipes found on the hot bar counter are full of freshness, vibrancy, and of course, plenty of Spanish flavours and sunshine. I hope that everyone who tries the hot bar dishes not only enjoy the flavours, but is transported, to sunny Spain!
What is your favourite hot bar dish recipe and why?
All recipes we created are full of flavour. All time favourite of mine, which my Mum has always cooked for me since I was a child at home, is the Garlicky Chicken. Go and visit the hot bars at Whole Foods Market and taste for yourself - it’s my Mum’s exact recipe!
Celebrate Spanish Summer with Omar’s exclusive Pollo al Ajillo recipe
Seared chicken on the bone, slow cooked onions & whole cloves of garlic finished with white wine, rosemary & tender, roasted new potatoes.