Dubbedthe The ‘Antonio Banderas of cooking’, this week’s Londoner is Spanish chef Omar Allibhoy, the owner of three Tapas Revolution restaurants AND curator of his Tapas & Spanish cookbook of the same name…
How long have you lived in London, where and why?
I came to London nearly 10 years ago to learn the English language, other cuisines and to have a bit of an adventure. I lived in Spain for 21 years before coming to London and felt it was time to experience other cultures. I arrived from Madrid to Camden and moved into a shared flat I’d found over the internet. I quickly left this and rented a flat in Shoreditch where I lived for a few years. Ever since then I’ve had a dream of opening a tapas bar in Shoreditch and I’m so happy I finally did it.
You have a cookbook and three tapas bars, why did you choose to open up in London?
Because London is where I live and it’s such a vibrant city. It’s very exciting, plenty of competition and you have to work extra hard to stand out. I love a challenge and this city gets the best out of me.
What advice would you give to any chefs trying to publish a cook book?
Keep calm and get ready for many endless hours of sitting in a chair writing recipes, reading and editing them again and again and again until they are perfect. But as with everything good in this life, when it’s finished all the challenges are forgotten and the feeling of achievement is awesome.
If you could choose one dish from your cookbook to make for friends, what would it be?
I’m a big fan of paella, everyone is really and it’s great to share from the big paella pan. Paella is such a complicated dish to get right, time after time I try to do the best paella I’ve ever made, which is fun to me. I have a personal challenge with paella and all my family and friends know that and they laugh at me. They think I am a bit of freak, but they know they’re always up for a treat.
Finally what would your perfect day in London be?
Waking up at 8am and the sun is shining, it’s warm outside and I have breakfast with my son on the terrace. I would play tennis with my neighbour in Gladstone Park to get some energy before a terrific day ahead. I would spend the afternoon with my son playing in the park, go to the zoo or just do something new which fascinates him, I enjoy watching him enjoy. In the evening I would meet friends. We might have a BBQ, go for a walk by the river and stop every now and then for a refreshing beer. We’d have a good dinner somewhere I’ve never eaten before.
Fancy sampling some of Omar’s food, hit up one of his 3 Tapas Revolution restaurants.