How celebrity chefs destroy Spanish dishes
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How celebrity chefs destroy Spanish dishes
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How celebrity chefs destroy Spanish dishes

Jamón, sangría, paella and tapas – the symbols that represent Spanish cuisine abroad, at least at the amateur level. And thanks to Spanish chef José Andrés’ efforts to educate audiences, some people also know how to identify and preparefabada (a bean stew), arroz con leche (rice pudding) and bacalao al pil-pil (cod with olive oil, garlic and chili).

Meanwhile, the sudden ubiquity of chorizo across the globe has sent overseas chefs bonkers, coming up with things like chorizo meatballs, chicken and chorizo paté, chorizo pizza and even chorizo jam, complete with a label bearing the words “Oink. Olé.” And all of it marketed as “Spanish.”

But a professional chef is another story – especially the media-savvy ones. You might expect individuals with specialized training, experience, fame and travel time under their belts to know that real carbonara uses no cream and that paellas are made in paella dishes.

Here we review some of the more appalling examples of how celebrity chefs from other countries have altered Spanish cuisine. At the same time, however, we should also remember the upside of all this: that our cooking is now renowned enough to be subjected to the same kind of torment as the cuisines of Italy, Mexico and countless other suffering nations.

Paella De Marisco Light


Gordon Ramsay, a chef with a total of 14 Michelin stars and umpteen TV cooking shows, teaches an Englishwoman how to make a paella. Without even venturing into a detailed discussion of what, exactly, constitutes a paella – an issue that raises passions in Valencia – you should be warned that what follows does not even deserve to fall into the category of “rice with stuff in it.”

In best Kitchen Nightmares style, Ramsay awes the poor lady with his perfect “I-know-what-I’m-doing” pose. Then he launches into making a “paella” with (what else?) chorizo, chicken, shrimp, squid and clams. He then jazzes it up with a generous squirt of sherry, as well as a few chili peppers – because it’s never too late to confuse Spain with Mexico.

But perhaps the worst part is the fact that he prepares this concoction in a frying pan, and it comes out so runny that he is forced to serve it with a ladle. Yum yum. But that’s all right, because the unhappy woman’s family is delighted, and blown away by the exoticism of it all.

Fideua 1


David Chang, lord and master of the Momofuku restaurants, made a fideuá using instant noodles in season one of The Mind of a Chef (available on Netflix). “Now I will make a very famous Spanish dish: noodles,” he asserts before frying a cartload of chorizo with clams and mussels, then adding broken-up noodles and chicken broth. To top it all off, he sprinkles paprika generously, adds a couple of spoonfuls of alioli (an oil and garlic sauce), and voilá.

The fact is, it’s a good idea to use instant ramen noodles in this way – but to call it a fideuá goes beyond the limits of decency.

The poor guy did look a little alarmed even as he perpetrated the dish, so we can forgive him. That, and the fact that his show is worth it if only to hear him sing in the company of celebrity Basque chef Juan Mari Arzak in San Sebastián.

Tortilla De Patata

Spanish omelet

The tortilla de patatas, or Spanish omelet, is so simple – just oil, potatoes, whole eggs and, depending on preference, onion – that it has been subjected to all kinds of cruel treatment at the hands of cooks who believe that it needs something more. Either they add chorizo, vegetables and herbs without blushing, or they cook it in the microwave or oven rather than a frying pan, as well as committing a thousand other evil things besides.

Unquestionably, the most psychedelic version of tortilla was made by the very famous (in his country) Indian chef Sanjeev Kapoor. Using a minimal amount of oil, he stir-fries onion, chilies and green pepper with a few boiled potatoes.

The saddest part of all is that he uses five egg whites and one single yolk for the tortilla. Not content with this, he then sticks it in the oven for no fewer than 20 minutes at 180ºC. Ouch.


Good thing we also have some truly deplorable paellas in Spain to moan about.

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