Boston, Vancouver, Rosario, Delhi, Shanghai. This is chef Marco Antonio Blanquer's long journey to establishing himself in his current destination: Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, where he is the chief chef of the Kempinski Hotel Mall, a grand luxury hotel. This health crisis has meant that he has been working alone, without colleagues, until April. However, it seems that now everything is starting to normalize to a certain extent, and they are already opening their Spanish restaurant, "Salero".
"Now I am also sharing recipes on a new online radio spaniard"explains Marco Antonio, as a way to maintain interest in Spanish cuisine carried out in the Emirates. "It seems to me that everything is stricter here than in Spain: we have many limitations and when everything happens they will give us a certificate for working in this era of coronavirus"says the cook.
Its origins: a family restaurant in Les Marines
"My training begins at my family's restaurant, the Rembrandt, with my uncle Pedro and my mother Carmen, and then helping with events and weddings. " Marco Antonio explains that he first came to Dubai in 2012, with a job offer at Lafayette Galleries at Dubai Mall, a huge shopping mall. Once there, titles such as that of Personal In Charge to be able to exercise the position of Head of Kitchen. And he also studied English, something that all deniers pel mon. After that first experience in Dubai, he changed his city and country, and accumulated professional baggage. Until he finally returned to Dubai in 2017, until today.
Daily life in the UAE before the coronavirus
Dubai is the name of one of the seven emirates that make up the United Arab Emirates, and also of the city that is its capital. It is on the coast of the Persian Gulf and next to the Arabian desert. Dubai stands out for luxury and for its ultramodern architecture: "If you come with the mentality that we have in Spain of the weekends going out to dinner and partying, it is an expensive life and you do not save a dirham" (dirham is the official currency), the chef tells us. People spend a lot of time in shopping malls because at certain times of the year the heat is unbearable, with temperatures between 50 and 60 degrees.
The job as chef de cuisine: bringing Spanish culture closer to people
As the chef of a Spanish cuisine restaurant, she teaches people to understand that eating well is part of our culture. For them, sharing tapas and paella is a new concept, and the chef wants to convey that it is an act that socializes and gives a new experience.
Marco Antonio truly believes that thanks to his cuisine he can make many people want to visit our country. And it also tells us about the toughness and discipline of the cook: "I have a very organized life and I like to spend time at home, we work long hours and I need to rest. The days are long in this profession", confesses the chef.
Penguins in the desert
Marco Antonio tells us that in his free time he usually goes out into the desert, where it takes a lot to drive a quad. He also usually practices zip line activities.
And he explains the great contradictions and eccentricities that are experienced in Dubai: "The largest ski slope in the world is in my hotel, and from the rooms you can see people skiing. Also, you can do activities with penguins, which are inside the slopes".
Emotions and future projects: will he return to Dénia?
What do you miss and what do you miss at all? Marco Antonio is clear: "I remember a lot about my brothers, my mother, my uncles and cousins, my nephews, my friends and of course my daughter Antonella." But what he does not miss at all is Spanish food, because he is surrounded by tapas and paellas all day. "Who knows if someday I come back and start my own business or work for someone in Dénia. But today I am in two projects and I would like to live them and take advantage of them. Also, I hope to reach my goal of being an executive chef in the chain soon of luxury hotels that I work in. I think I still have some time to be away learning and helping others. "