Daniel Chavez, chef-owner of Ola Cocina del Mar, Singapore kicks off Birch’s all-new guest chef series with an 8-course menu of modern Spanish delights, laced with a traditional Peruvian twist. Having cooked in kitchens all over the world — we are talking Can Fabes of Spain and Les Amis of Singapore, Chef Daniel’s Peruvian background is his stronghold, which he incorporates into his years of training in Spanish cuisine. Emmilyn Yeoh speaks to Chef Daniel Chavez on his vision of bringing Peruvian and Spanish flavours to the fore, with his signature restaurant, Ola Cocina del Mar and more recently, Tono.
What are you most excited about your collaboration with Birch?
It’s always a great experience to leave your comfort zone and bring your cuisine to places that you have never been. We get to learn many new things about ourselves and also about Birch that is hosting us.
In this first guest chef series, will you be recreating the OLA experience or providing something entirely new?
In this occasion we will be showcasing dishes from both Ola, which is a Spanish restaurant; and Tono, our new Peruvian Cevicheria in Singapore. There are many similarities in both cuisine, so we will be combining signature dishes from both ends.
How would you describe your philosophy of cooking?
The cooking approach that we defend in OLA is a very basic one — flavour. It is a common phrase, sounds very simplistic but yet is a very profound word, especially in the culinary industry. We don’t label ourselves as trendy and experimental, so we take a lot of inspiration in traditional dishes mainly from Peru and Spain, regions that I’m most familiar with.
What are three things that people should know about Peruvian food?
First, Peruvian Food is one of the most diverse cuisines in the world. We have Inca, Spanish, African, Chinese, Italian and Japanese influence, from various migrations throughout history. One of the most popular dishes in the world, ceviche, is our national dish, and is made of fresh seafood, limes, chilli and some red onions. Also, in Peru, we have more than 3800 varieties of potatoes. They differ in size, texture, colour, taste and they grow in the Andes mountains at very high altitudes.
What is your favourite restaurant to dine at?
After living in Singapore for more than 10 years, my palate has developed a liking for Asian food, and I try to visit all the amazing hawker stalls! Personally, I also love Hashida Sushi which serves unique omakase with a very daring approach.
How experimental are you and where do you draw the line?
Contrary to what most chefs and restaurants are doing nowadays, we try to go backwards and serve a much more traditional cuisine. In order to provide a better understanding of the country’s food culture, I believe that it is necessary to start from the roots, so we would like to showcase Peruvian and Spanish cuisine in its truest, most basic form.
The 8-course menu at Birch is priced at RM350++ per person, which includes a Pisco Biscuit welcome cocktail. Wine pairing is available at an additional RM150++. Available on November 18 for one-night only at Birch, DC Mall. Reservations can be made at [email protected] or call +603 2011 5966.