Fusion, not confusion, for Spaniard chef Munoz

Tue May 12, 2009 1:32am EDT
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By Miral Fahmy

SINGAPORE (Reuters Life!) - For Spanish chef David Munoz, fusion cuisine doesn't mean throwing foods from different countries together. It's all about learning the technique.

Munoz's DiverXO restaurant in Madrid is often booked solid for months and his menu, marrying Asian and Spanish ingredients and cooking styles, with a touch of Peru or Morocco thrown in, has earned him several accolades, including best new chef of the year at 2008's Madrid Fusion International Gourmet Summit.

But Munoz, whose restaurant name bears tribute to one of his favorite Chinese condiments, XO sauce, worked at top-notch Spanish restaurants at home, as well as renowned Asian fusion eateries such as London's Nobu and Hakkasan, before making elements of each cuisine his own.

Signature dishes include back-to-front fried red prawn carpaccio -- very thinly sliced prawns cooked by spraying it with the juice of sauteed prawn heads -- and black cod with cider and Chinese honey accompanied by his version of "socarrat," the crunchy rice stuck to the bottom of the paella pan.

The 30-year-old chef, who was in Singapore recently at a global gourmet gathering, spoke to Reuters about his famous Spanish omelet dim sums and his passion for globalization:

Q: What inspired you to combine such diverse cuisines?

A: "I always wanted to try something different. After working in Madrid, my wife and I went to London 6 years ago and it was there that I learned about Asian food. In Spain, Chinese food is very commercial, and at Hakkasan, everything was extremely different. At first, I only did pastry, because the non-Chinese were not allowed to cook hot food, but I persuaded the head chef to let me cook. I learned so much, it gave me lots of ideas. Working at Nobu too, which combines Japanese and Peruvian elements, was also very interesting.

At the end of the day, I just love Asian food and a chef cooks what he loves."   Continued...

<p>Spanish chef David Munoz cooks at a culinary workshop at the Miele Kitchen in Singapore in this April 23, 2009 handout photo. REUTERS/The Miele Guide/Handout</p>