Ricardo Migueláñez. Agricultural engineer. @rmiguelanez
Sergio Fernández, who trained at Madrid's School of Catering and Tourism, has been manning stoves for years. Born in Madrid, Fernández has participated in numerous cooking demos and gastronomy fairs and seminars in cities around the world, including Prague, Warsaw, Zurich and Tokyo. He has also been a member of many juries at major gastronomic competitions and has hosted several TV shows, among them Cocinamos contigo (Cooking with you), on the Cooking Channel, and currently Mi madre cocina mejor que la tuya (My mother cooks better than yours), on channel four. Fernández is a loyal defender of Aceituning, a culinary concept in which packaged olives are marinated with unique flavors.
What role are olives capable of playing in cooking?
I have been a chef for more than 25 years, and I have consistently used them because they always yield incredible results. What's really interesting is that most chefs use them frequently, because you can include them in guirlache (an almond and caramel dessert), in a stew with rooster, dehydrated in a pie crust and, of course, on their own as an appetizer. I believe that olives are as important in cooking as salt and olive oil.
Could you tell us about the Aceituning movement and when it began?
Aceituning is about marinating olives—any kind you can find in the supermarket—, personalizing them, adapting them to the time of day when you want to eat them. Simply put: it's about olives and how you feel like eating them, because they go well with everything. I couldn't say exactly when this movement began, because all we want to do with ACEITUNING is highlight something people do every day. We've simply underlined this tradition; it's something that people have always done.
Are olives just a typical snack served with beer in Spain?
That's like saying a Ferrari is just a car... From that standpoint, it's just a simple appetizer, but we would be wrong if we thought about it like that.
What are the gastronomic features of olives and with what ingredients can they be combined?
Olives have all of the basic flavors, and the fifth taste, Umami—a savory taste, as the Japanese would say. They can be used with any product and are always suitable.
Can you give some examples of how olives can be used for more than an appetizer?
There's a Mediterranean dish that I love, which is rooster stew with green olives and cockscomb... It's delicious! Olives can also be used as a stuffing, and as an accompaniment to meat, in sauces for fish; they have infinite uses.
With regard to eating them with other foods, what are the most successful marinades?
I love to mix them with canned fish, cured cheese, smoked meat... Most people can't even imagine all of the dishes that can be prepared with olives and the myriad combinations that are possible...
What are the nutritional properties of olives?
Fiber, vitamins, oleic acid... Olives seem more like vitamin supplements than a natural product... and to top it all off, they're tasty.