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Cooking as a lifestyle. Interview with a private chef

  • Diary
  • 11 minutes of reading
Private chef in a modern kitchen, cutting meat on a wooden board. The chef is wearing a white kitchen jacket and is focused on his task. In the kitchen there are several copper pots on the table, along with some small plates of ingredients. Behind the chef, two customers watch and enjoy wine. The woman is wearing a black dress and has a healthy and natural figure, while the man is wearing a dark suit with a white shirt. They are both smiling and holding wine glasses. The atmosphere is welcoming and professional, highlighting culinary preparation and customer satisfaction.
In the fascinating world of haute cuisine, where every dish is a work of art and every ingredient tells a story, private chefs have emerged as the masters of personalization and exclusivity. They not only cook, but create unique culinary experiences in the privacy of their clients' homes. Today, at Cocina Caprice, we have the opportunity to delve into the life and passion of Rafael Díaz, a private chef whose dedication and creativity redefine the concept of personalized gastronomy. From his humble beginnings in Malaga to his training at the prestigious Hofmann Hospitality School in Barcelona and his time working in haute cuisine catering, this chef shares with us his challenges, satisfactions and the philosophy that guides his culinary art. Get ready for a journey that will awaken all your senses and inspire you to see the kitchen in a new light.

Background and Motivation:

I started my career in gastronomy working at Ferrán Adriá's El Bulli catering service. But in reality, the passion for cooking was passed on to me by my grandmother, who taught me to value fresh ingredients and traditional recipes. I decided to become a private chef because I wanted to have the freedom to create custom menus and offer a unique culinary experience to each client. I am inspired by the possibility of surprising and delighting people in the privacy of their homes.

Experience and Training:

I trained at the CETT Hospitality School and later at Hofmann in Barcelona and then worked in several haute cuisine catering establishments in the city (Vilaplana, Semon). Each of these places taught me different cooking techniques and styles. The demands and level of creativity were very high, and there I learned the true importance of attention to detail.

Challenges and Satisfactions:

The biggest challenge of being a private chef is adapting to different kitchens and equipment on each job, as well as managing client expectations. However, this is also what makes every day exciting and unique. What I enjoy most is seeing my clients' reaction when they try a dish for the first time. Knowing that I have contributed to a memorable experience is incredibly rewarding.

Relationship with customers:

I strive to know my clients well, their tastes and preferences. I always have a detailed conversation with them before designing the menu to make sure every detail is perfect. A client once asked me to recreate dishes from their honeymoon in Italy for their anniversary. It was a very rewarding challenge to see how excited they were about each dish.

Creativity and Menus:

I develop new dishes inspired by my travels, cookbooks and current trends. I love experimenting with flavors and techniques until I find the perfect combination. I have a particular passion for local and seasonal ingredients; Working with fresh and artisanal products is one of the greatest pleasures of my job.

Sustainability and Ethics:

Sustainability is a priority for me. I always try to use local and seasonal ingredients to reduce my carbon footprint and support local producers. Additionally, I try to minimize food waste through careful planning and making the most of all ingredients.

Trends and Future:

I see that current trends are leaning towards healthier and more sustainable cuisine. People are more aware of what they eat and where their food comes from. In five years, I would like to have my own sustainable catering business and continue offering unique culinary experiences. I'm also working on a recipe book that I hope to publish soon.

Tips and Recommendations:

For those who want to become a private chef, my advice is to be patient and flexible. Each client is different, and it is important to know how to adapt and offer a personalized service. I admire chefs like Massimo Bottura for their creativity and commitment to sustainability; His restaurant in Modena is a true source of inspiration.

Personality and Style:

My personal style in the kitchen is a mix of tradition and innovation. I like to respect classic techniques, but I always add a modern and creative touch. Outside of the kitchen, I enjoy traveling and exploring new cultures and cuisines, reading, and spending time outdoors.

Achievements and Recognitions:

One of my most notable achievements was being invited to cook at a high-end charity event, where I had the opportunity to collaborate with other talented chefs and raise funds for a good cause.

How do you stay up to date with new culinary trends and cooking techniques?

I am always looking for new knowledge. I attend workshops, conferences and gastronomic exhibitions. I also follow other chefs on social media and read specialized magazines to stay up to date with the latest trends. Additionally, I love traveling and experimenting with new cuisines and techniques that I can then incorporate into my menus. There is always something new to learn in this dynamic field.

What role does technology play in your kitchen?

Technology plays an important role in my work. I use modern equipment such as sous-vide and thermocirculators to ensure precise cooking. I also use software for menu planning and inventory management. Technology helps me be more efficient and maintain consistent quality in my dishes.

Could you share any cooking tips or tricks that you consider essential?

Of course, an essential tip is organization and prior preparation, known as “mise en place”. Having all the ingredients prepared and ready before you start cooking not only saves time, but also ensures that everything goes more smoothly and efficiently. Also, always taste and adjust seasonings throughout the cooking process.

How do you handle clients' special diets and dietary restrictions?

It is essential to know the clients' dietary needs and restrictions from the beginning. I always ask about allergies, intolerances, and dietary preferences during our first meeting. Then, I adapt the menu to make sure everyone can enjoy the meal without worry. Creativity in the kitchen is key to offering delicious and safe alternatives.

What is your favorite ingredient and why?

My favorite ingredient is extra virgin olive oil. It is incredibly versatile and can transform a dish with its rich, complex flavor. Whether dressing salads, cooking vegetables, or finishing a dish, olive oil adds a depth of flavor that I love.

What has been the biggest challenge you have faced in your career as a private chef?

One of the biggest challenges was cooking for a celebrity during a visit to Spain. The pressure was immense, as everything had to be perfect and meet the highest standards. It was an intense but extremely rewarding experience, and I learned a lot about stress management and the importance of meticulous preparation.

Do you have any special rituals or routines before you start cooking?

Before I start cooking, I take a few minutes to review the day's menu and think about each step of the process. This helps me stay focused and organized. I also make sure my workspace is spotlessly clean and tidy, which makes workflow easier.

How do you get inspired to create new dishes and menus?

Inspiration can come from many sources: an old cookbook, a recent trip, a conversation with a local producer, or even a childhood memory. I like to combine traditional elements with modern techniques and I always seek to balance flavors and textures in my dishes.

What is the most rewarding thing about being a private chef?

The most rewarding thing is the direct connection with my clients and the opportunity to create personalized experiences. Seeing the satisfaction and happiness on their faces when enjoying my dishes is unmatched. Additionally, the creative freedom I have as a private chef allows me to constantly experiment and evolve.

Do you have any long-term projects or dreams related to gastronomy?

Yes, one of my dreams is to open a cooking school where I can teach others the techniques and passion for cooking that I have developed over the years. I would also like to write a recipe book that combines personal stories with my favorite dishes, to share my love of cooking with a wider audience.

Do you have any rituals before you start cooking that you consider a little peculiar?

Yes, before I start cooking, I like to listen to indie music. I think it helps me focus and get into the right state of mind to create. I also have a special apron that I always wear when I know I have an important event.

What is the strangest or most unusual dish you have prepared at a customer's request?

A client once asked me to prepare an entire menu based on insects. It was an interesting challenge and I learned a lot about cooking with insects. I ended up making grasshopper tacos and a salad with big-ass ants.

Are there any ingredients that you simply don't like or avoid using in your dishes?

I'm not a big fan of licorice. I find its flavor to be too strong and can overpower other ingredients. However, if a client specifically requests it, I do my best to integrate it in a balanced way.

What is your guilty pleasure in terms of food? Something that is not gourmet but that you love.

Definitely the fries with ketchup. It's a simple and common combination, but there's something comforting about eating crispy French fries. I allow myself that little luxury from time to time.

Do you have any famous chefs that you consider your idol or inspiration?

I admire Julia Child very much. His passion for cooking and his ability to make French haute cuisine accessible to American homes is truly inspiring. His charisma and dedication are qualities that I try to emulate in my own career.

What is your biggest kitchen disaster?

Once, while preparing a Christmas dinner, a whole turkey fell out of the oven just as I was about to serve it. It was a disaster, but luckily I had enough time to prepare another main dish. I learned the importance of always having a contingency plan.

What dish do you cook when you want to impress someone?

When I want to impress, I usually make a white truffle risotto. It is a dish that requires precision and care, and the aroma and flavor of truffles always leave a memorable impression.

Are there any family recipes that are especially important to you?

Yes, my grandmother's paella recipe is very special to me. It's a dish that I've perfected over time, but it always reminds me of family gatherings and the stories we shared while cooking together.

If you could have dinner with anyone, living or dead, who would it be and what would you make?

I would love to have dinner with Anthony Bourdain. His vision of the world of cooking and his passion for culinary culture were fascinating. He would prepare a tasting menu that includes dishes from various parts of the world, reflecting his adventurous spirit.

Do you have any superstitions or hobbies in the kitchen?

I always use the same knife for the most delicate tasks. It is a Japanese knife that a chef friend gave me and I feel that it gives me luck and precision in each cut. I also have a habit of knocking on wood before starting an important event, just to make sure everything goes well.

Conclusion

The story of this private chef is a testament to the power of passion, dedication and innovation in gastronomy. Through their eyes, we see that cooking is not just a profession, but a lifestyle based on intensity and commitment. Their focus on sustainability, using local and seasonal ingredients, and creating bespoke culinary experiences resonates deeply in a world where consumers increasingly value authenticity and personal connection. In a future that promises more conscious and creative cuisine, chefs like him guide us toward new and exciting gastronomic possibilities. At Cocina Caprice, we celebrate his art and hope that his story inspires other chefs to continue raising the standards of private gastronomy.

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