Spanish chef Alberto Mastromatteo’s food philosophy is simple. “If our body is a car engine, then food plays the role of gasoline,” says the celebrity chef. Mastromatteo’s utilitarian outlook toward food acts as a solid foundation for his flavour and technique-rich recipes that are favoured from Barcelona to Bombay.
The chef was in town recently after being invited by The Consulate General of Spain in Mumbai to be a part of a two-day, first-of-its-kind Spanish food festival in the city. Mastromatteo found himself taking over the kitchens at Mumbai’s Bastian Worli and Binge by Bastian to take the diners through a gastronomical trip through Spain.
The chef who specialises in slow cooking, curated a special menu of traditional Spanish food and cocktails, including Aceitunas Líquidas Ferra Adrià, Con Polvo De Aceituna Negra, Salmorejo Andaluz Con Verduras Encurtidas, Torrija Caramelizada Con Espuma De Crema Catalana Y Tierra De Cacao, Patatas Bravas, Ajillo Mixed Mushroom, Szechuan String Beans, Bastian Ceviche, Uva Del Cielo, Horchata De La India, and Sangre Di Basilico to name a few.
Mastromatteo was optimistic about introducing traditional Spanish cuisine, in his own style, to the Indian palate as he feels the two cuisines share many similarities. “The similarities are in the sauces and the preparation styles of legumes in a broth form.” But he also insists that the two cuisines couldn’t be more different when it comes to the proclivity of Indians toward spicy food, “Spanish food has basically no spice!”
When the chef is not busy melding two similar but different food cultures together, he can be found at the Summumm Gastroespacio cooking school in Alcobendas, where he is the director. The chef also serves as a personal chef to some of the most recognisable names in football, including Christiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, and Karim Benzema.
While insisting that these footballers prefer simpler foods like “a good plate of pasta” like the rest of the world, the chef revealed one of the secret ingredients behind their impeccable health. “Microalgae are the superfood of the soccer players of the Summumm company,” says Mastromatteo. The chef insists that this form of vegetable protein can get well absorbed and assimilated into the body, so it gives greater stability when you’re making a physical recovery. According to him, it can be added to our daily diet easily as it’s very versatile, “I usually recommend taking 120 ml of water with a dessert spoon of spirulina with a little lemon juice.”
While the chef might believe Indian and Spanish cuisines might be cousins, and not sisters, he does feel greatful that he got to experiment in a way that combined the best of both worlds together, “It was a very fulfilling experience for mixing the rich Indian cuisine with our Spanish dishes. I’m delighted Indians got to carry palates with the blend of two worlds.”
BRB, going to sample as many Indian and Spanish dishes as we can to back Mastromatteo’s claim. For scientific reasons, of course.