Graduated from the Ambrosía Culinary Center, the Mexican chef Oswaldo Oliva has become one of the great talents of modern gastronomy.
“Still, despite all the obstacles, it wouldn’t change anything about the entrepreneurship process.”
After working for several years in important Spanish restaurants, such as the Mugaritz in the Basque Country, Oswaldo and his wife Liz return to their homeland. And they start their own restaurant, developing all the creativity and breaking traditional patterns in the kitchen.
Tell us about your career as a chef. Above all the process to start your own restaurant.
The opening process of Alelí and Lorea is a very special memory. My wife Elizabeth and I knew that we wanted a project where the questions were constant. We have never been lovers of the work model in the restaurant world, excessive hours, low wages, little learning in the daily routine and stressful work ecosystems. We set out to build ours from scratch.
Questioning everything is not an easy path, the path is not traced and each decision makes you face dozens of doubts. There are no good or bad answers, there are only options that could be viable, and at some point, you must take risks to see if they are appropriate.
Still, despite all the obstacles, it wouldn’t change anything about the entrepreneurship process. Each phase has brought us to the point where we are and I am proud of the very special model we have.
“Food and wine go hand in hand and only by exploring both worlds in depth we can have a real impact.“
Where does that passion for creating new gastronomic dishes come from?
It comes from the need to escape the routine. From the desire to learn new things every day and to push what we do and know to new levels. Forcing yourself to cook ingredients you don’t know pushes you out of your comfort zone and that’s where the most growth can be found.
What relationship does wine have with your professional life?
The relationship between wine and my professional life is intrinsic. Every day, as part of our goal, is that diners enjoy themselves in a comprehensive way. Food and wine go hand in hand and only by exploring both worlds in depth we can have a real impact.
“We are lovers of the attributes of quality and of the stories of commitment and passion behind a great wine and fortunately the world is full of cases like this.”
What different flavors does Mexican food provide that are conquering the palates of many diners around the world?
Many flavors. The plant diversity that exists in Mexico is unique in the world, however, a large part of the products that give greater identity to Mexican cuisine can be grown in other latitudes. This allows flavors such as chili peppers, corn and a large number of vegetables and fruits characteristic of Mexican cuisine, to reach people in different parts of the world.
What do you think about the pairing of Spanish wines with Mexican food? What is the greatest culinary contribution produced by the meeting of these two cultures?
At Lorea we approach food and beverage harmonization from much broader perspectives than place of origin. For us there are no limits or rules on the origin of the wines we serve, we are lovers of the attributes of quality and of the stories of commitment and passion behind a great wine and fortunately the world is full of cases like this.
For me, the greatest culinary contribution produced by the meeting of these two cultures is the opening of the public to ideas and proposals that are increasingly less limited.
Tell us which country and what type of wine is preferred by diners in your restaurants.
There are audiences for everything, contrary to the most common belief, there is a great openness to try new styles of wine, including the entire universe of natural wines. There is still a huge reference for old world wines, but the sector that has grown the most in the last three years is biodynamic, organic and natural wines.
What types of wine are your favorites, as an accompaniment to your dishes?
My favorite wine is atypical. I am a lover of German white wines from Riesling grape. I have been collecting GG for years and I really enjoy this style.
The wine and gastronomic world complement each other perfectly. Their alliance allows us to live a series of extraordinary experiences, that we cannot miss the opportunity to get to know them.
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