I love Nigerian pepper soup, say Spanish Chef Marugan

Posted on: June 6, 2024, by :

Celebrity Spanish Chef Alex Marugan came to Nigerian to train selected Nigerian chefs on Spanish cuisines and exchange ideas on food culture as part of the activities for Gastronomy Festival 2024. He spoke to Africa Travel Herald (ATH) on his experience. Excerpts:

Chef Alex Marugan

To become a chef,  did you go to any special school?

Yes, I spent two years in catering school.

After that, have worked in any of the big hotels?

Yes, I worked in a big hotel in Madrid. After that I travelled to Mexico to learn some Mexican food. Then to France, then I went back Madrid.

This is your first time in Africa?

No, this is the third time. I was in Nigeria last year and This year. I was also in Libya.

You’ve Travelled to Mexico,France, Libya , and Nigeria also. How would you describe the food culture?

TNigeria is building a new culture around their food. You have some typical food, a lot of people are growing (in this direction). I think that is the way to do it, especially for the young people. That is the way to develop as chefs.

You were in Nigeria last year for the Gastronomy Festival, and you had a lot of Nigerian visitors to your stand to taste your food. You conducted classed too for some chefs here in Nigeria. Looking at the food culture in Nigerian and the kind of chefs coming up, how would describe this development?

I didn’t have to many experiences on this area because we were mostly in our hotels. But I just tried jollof rice. Most of our interaction were on Spanish food , because they were learning about it. We came here to teach that. But I would like to have the opportunity to taste more things.

However, I tasted the pepper soup.

Talked about your experience with that?

I like it. It was really nice.

Even with the spices?

Yes. I like the spices.

Talk about  some of the cuisines you conducted classes on?

We made cow ham, normally we make pork ham but because of our Muslim participants, we made fish in the green sauce done with garlic, onions and a lot of fish. We made rice sticky rice with chicken, we spent more than an hour in cooking but I really love, and so on.

Is there any plan to open a Spanish Restaurant here in Nigeria?

No, there is no plan, it is just for goodwill and the foodies culture. We want to share the culture. It is a cultural promotion programme.

In Abuja, what are the trainees to expect?

The same cuisines as here (Lagos), traditional Spanish dishes.

For how long have you been a chef?

For fourteen years.

And within this period, you’ve grown rapidly to become a celebrity chef, what  did it take for you to grow so rapidly?

I don’t know (laughter). I just love my job and love cooking, and I really enjoy doing it. The only thing I love more than cooking is eating. And I really have a good team.

On a lighter note, for people that dedicated so much passion, energy and everything to cooking are normally big because they also eat a lot. You are not, what is the secret?

I was going that way but I started doing a lot of sport and told myself ‘Don’t do it!’

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