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'Using a quality product such as olive oil makes the dish even better'

Wiki Spanish Food.- With which type of cuisine do you identify more: traditional or creative?

Juan Pozuelo.- That's an easy question:I identify with cuisine that's good, that transcends labels and that reflects an open mind and spirit. For me, food should feed more than just the body.

W.S.F.-On Facebook, you wrote: "Cooking is more than preparing food, it seems to me... It's about more than communicating something, in its essence or provenance; it's about being capable of feeling, of construing sensations and emotions". Which gives you greater pleasure: eating or cooking?

J.P.- I consider them to be one and the same. Although it's somewhat narcissistic, and just about everyone cooks with a view to showing others what they've created, cooking for eating is something of a lexical recurrence; I certainly can't think of any other reason for cooking, but I believe it's a case of sublimation when eating is interpreted from the standpoint of awareness in cooking.

W.S.F.- What's your favorite dish?

J.P.- Any version of eggs with potatoes and Ibérico ham.

W.S.F.- You have always maintained close ties with the media. What's your opinion of reality cooking shows—Master Chef, Top Chef, etc.—as they become increasingly popular?

J.P.- TV is a spectacle, it's entertainment; those are the lines along which television has evolved in recent years. You decide what you watch. Measurement tools are irrefutable in terms of social acceptance. Cooking has been part of civilization since the discovery of fire; today it just has more advertising.

W.S.F.- You're quite active on social media. What does it offer you on a professional level?

J.P.- Social media offers a way to share. It is a modern-day tool for keeping in contact with our environment. If there is something to share, social media is effective when used correctly.

W.S.F.- How do you believe a restaurant should attract more customers and, more importantly, maintain them?

J.P.- I believe that quality is by far the best method. I'm talking about overall quality, not just in terms of cuisine, but the idea being the general experience, where customers evaluate the setting, service, food, surprise element, and sensations. If these aspects are positive, if there is quality overall, then customers will be a restaurant's greatest form of advertising.

W.S.F.- Like other sectors, gastronomy also sees its fair share of trends. Now, any product described as "gourmet" triumphs, from hamburgers to traditional markets, and even ordinary old bars that have become "gastrobars". Do you believe this is just marketing or do they really have something new to offer?

J.P.- The use of the "gourmet" label may have to do with the need to highlight something, the quality of the product or the way in which it's served. I prefer to draw on the real definitions, and neither gourmet nor gastrobars exist in terms of products or places, so I get the feeling it's more marketing than anything else. To some extent, we all try to improve sales in any life situation, so why not try it with the name of our business?

W.S.F.- You were recently named Virgin Olive Oil Ambassador in Spain. Are you an avid olive oil user? Why do you recommend it?

J.P.- It's a part of my childhood, my life, my culture. I believe in olive oil's good qualities and also in the organization. Using a quality product makes the dish even better; it's one of those perfect foods.

W.S.F.- Where do you believe Spanish gastronomy is headed?

J.P.- I think I had a better idea of how to answer that before; now I don't know. Maybe back to the beginning, towards authenticity, towards believing more in the value of things rather than in their aesthetic. Where, without losing sight of techniques, we recover an understanding of the raw material, revealing all of its riches.

W.S.F.-As regards promotion outside Spain, what qualities would you underline in recommending extra virgin olive oil?

J.P.- It's a versatile oil in terms of flavor and aroma. Its use in cooking improves the final result, and it also has health benefits.

W.S.F.- What are the main advantages of cooking with extra virgin olive oil?

J.P.- It performs better than other oils and it highlights the characteristics of other foods since it allows us to cook more quickly, while retaining natural juices and using smaller quantities.

W.S.F.- What sort of health benefits does it offer?

J.P.- It helps the body function and we feel better after a meal because of the smaller amount of oil used. Cooking with olive oil is a win-win situation.

W.S.F.- What varieties are available? How is it best combined with certain foods?

J.P.- In Spain alone there are more than 270 varieties in use. Although some of them are less common, they all share common features, such as a rich flavor and aroma. We should combine them with foods according to our specific tastes.

W.S.F.- How important is the international promotion of a product such as olive oil?

J.P.- We must raise awareness about the fact that we are the world’s leading olive oil producer and, of all the olive oils available around the globe, an enormous percentage of the very best are from Spain.

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19/06/2017