Quique Dacosta, a dandy in the kitchen
State-of-the-art in the kitchen and classic in attire, we discuss style and gastronomy with the Cáceres native, who through his own merits has become the standard-bearer for our cuisine.
He used to dream of becoming a DJ, but it is his restaurant dishes rather than his disco mixes that have brought him global renown. Born in Jarandilla de la Vera (Cáceres) and based in Denia, three Michelin stars and endless awards are testimony to his tremendous culinary personality. But far from the kitchen, the Dacosta style is also very recognisable: classic, sophisticated and elegant. In our interview with him we discuss eating, cooking and clothing.
What do you enjoy the most, cooking or eating? I love eating, which is why I make "impossible" trips to learn and enjoy what’shappening in the most interesting places in the world. It's something that gives me endless pleasure and forms part of my on-going education as a chef. In reality I don’t differentiate between eating and cooking because they both form part of my life and my work. But it is during the process of creating a new dish where I get the most satisfaction and can fully express myself. A process that evokes an emotional and vital energy within me that is very special and difficult to explain.
Have you taken your cooking as far as you wanted to? When I first started working in a kitchen aged 14 it was not exactly due to ambition. The day I fully committed myself to cooking as a profession I dreamt of owning my own restaurant and earning a modest income, a simple dream that has come true. My focus now is not so much on where I am going, but on being happy every single minute.I am living my dream, cooking, which I experience intensely and enjoy every second.
Who were you most excited to cook for? I have fed many people that I admire. For example, last season I cooked for some very senior gentlemen who came to see first hand what I am doing at Denia, and they did so with an unusually open mind. I felt a lot of respect. And it was wonderful to talk with them afterwards and hear them state it had been the best food and experience of their lives. They must have experienced many good and bad moments in their lives, and I am so happy that they felt they could look back on their experience at Denia as one of their best. Their happiness moved me, it's times like that when you reap the benefits of your career.
Whom would you love to cook for that you haven't already? I would have loved to cook for Pablo Picasso, for me he was the “total artist”. And above all to have had a glass of wine and a long chat with him after. Fate also meant I was unable to serve my parents, and see and hear them experience my work; I am very much like my parents you know.Today, I would really like to serve our political and economic leaders as a way of improving many of the world’s processes.
You keep fit, you even run marathons... what's your training routine? I don't run every day because my schedule doesn't allow it. And also because running every day is not ideal for your body. I run at least three days a week, and if I miss a day because of work or family I try and make up for it, without getting obsessed. I go to the gym whenever I can in Denia, and all the hotels I stay at when I am on the road. What's more I love running around the cities I visit.
Surprise us with some trashy food that you really like? I really like candy.
What are your other passions, beyond the kitchen? I love art and design. I like and enjoy any type of music, and as an anecdote I can inform you that when I first arrived in Denia as a boy I dreamt of becoming a DJ.
Can you recommend a film and a novel on the subject of gastronomy? I would recommend "Like Water for Chocolate" and any novel by Anthony Bourdain. As regards a fun comedy, I would suggest "Sideways" or "The Hundred-foot journey".
What do you think the gastronomic trend will be ten years from now? There won't be a single trend, but numerous different strong trends. As many as the different sensitivities and enormous talents that lead them. It seems clear that regional values, culture, and products will continue to gain importance, with a greater emphasis on the value of the autochthonous and small productions. As well as looking after yourself and eating healthily. Haute cuisine, such as we now understand it, will continue of course, but I am convinced that there will be a new school of thought that will change many things. The next ten years are going to be incredible.
As a lover of aesthetics, what would you say makes a dish stylish? Aesthetic and plastic composition (what you see on the plate) is a combination of sensitivity, knowledge and above all natural elegance. It is something that is expressed harmoniously, and is about the quality of materials and perfect cooking execution, combined with a unique, individual and distinct presentation.
What makes a man stylish? I don't think its something you can be dogmatic about. Our clothes accompany us, identify us and embellish us. But style is not just about the exterior, it runs deeper.
How would you define your clothing style? At its heart my style is classic, refined. It is comprised of contemporary details, which one way or another have become my hallmarks. I like to wear bespoke suits, with handkerchiefs, and thin or half neckties with clips. Footwear is fundamental, I love shoes and playing aesthetically with socks. But there is a time and place for everything, I also like the sport or casual look, as long as it is carried with elegance and well matched.
Name a male mentor in terms of their elegance? (actors, musicians…) José María Manzanares, Jon Kortajarena, Tom Ford, Ryan Gosling, Pep Guardiola.
Certain magazines rank you amongst the top 25 most elegant men in Spain. Would you say its something you are born with or can it be acquired? I am flattered that I am considered to be one of the most elegant men in the country, what a lovely recognition. In response to your question... I would say it's probably a bit of both.
What clothing bands do you prefer? There are many, depends on the moment, and I also like bespoke suits.
What is your greatest clothing indulgence? A dressing room just for me.