Carmen Benítez. Journalist @cabeherrero
Wikispanishfood.com- Your restaurant Casa Marcial has two Michelin Stars and two Repsol Suns. How do you handle the pressure?
Nacho Manzano.- The truth is that there's no pressure. For me, and for the entire team, it is a source of satisfaction and it is highly motivating that our efforts have been recognized. We have been very lucky.
W.S.F.- Like many other Spaniards, you too emigrated to London, and you recently opened the first Spanish terrace (i.e. alfresco dining) there. Why did you choose London for your international ventures?
N.M.- Actually, my partners at Ibérica London are British, so I guess you could say that they chose me. I have to say that, as I get to know the city better, I see it as the perfect setting for selling Spanish cuisine.
We aim to be a standard-bearer of Spanish gastronomy in the UK capital, to provide a place where people can try typical dishes and tapas as well as more complex creations from Spain, made with top-quality ingredients. Our goal is to act as ambassadors for the country's most emblematic products and focus always on simple, delicious cuisine.
W.S.F.- What has the reaction been to your three tapas bars in the UK? What type of food do you serve there?
N.M.- The reaction has been fantastic. Our second restaurant in London, Ibérica Canary Wharf, reflects our distinct interpretation of traditional Spanish cuisine with modern touches. Lázaro Rosa Violan, the renowned designer behind Contemporain Studio in Barcelona, created a contemporary, cozy space where customers can enjoy the best of Spanish culture in a truly elegant setting. The kitchen has been expertly incorporated into the design of the restaurant, so customers can watch our chefs in action and feel their energy.
W.S.F.- What is your signature dish at Casa Marcial in Spain?
N.M.- It's hard to say. We serve very good food and try to remain loyal to the idea of a typical old-style restaurant and, to that end, we prepare a lot of stews. If I had to choose one item on the menu though, I would say its our scrambled egg dish.
W.S.F.- I imagine that, at a restaurant like Casa Marcial, selection of raw materials is extremely important. Where do you usually shop? Do you buy directly from producers? Do you go to the market, or do you delegate?
N.M.- We give absolute priority to local products and, in that regard, we are fortunate. Moreover, any story that we tell through our food is better when we prepare it with products that we can access readily.
We prefer to buy certain ingredients, and other items are delivered, but regardless, the focus on quality is always the same.
W.S.F.- Sustainability is currently an issue all sectors are addressing. Is Casa Marcial sustainable? If so, how?
N.M.- We are firmly committed to local stockbreeders and farmers, some of which could make a sound living off what we buy; however, the bureaucracy in Spain and certain laws do not favor sustainability or rural development, and it's really a shame.
W.S.F.- One of the main characteristics of high-end chefs is that they are always preparing new creations. What are you working on currently?
N.M.- For haute cuisine chefs, creating is the most motivating aspect of our job. It is truly satisfying; doing something no one else has done is unique. We are currently working on a menu based on game meat, but from a different perspective. It will be available in the future.
W.S.F.- On a personal note, what is your favorite dish?
N.M.- Nothing gives me greater pleasure than top-quality hake cheeks.
W.S.F.- What's your favorite restaurant?
N.M.- I honestly don't believe I have one.