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At The Table With Chef Antonio Saez of Catalan, Rosewood Abu Dhabi

Rosewood’s flagship Middle East property in the heart of the capital’s new Sowwah Square development is home to the latest addition to the capital’s fine dining scene, Catalan. The Spanish fine dining restaurant, serves truly authentic Spanish fare that comes from the heart… the heart of Catalonia where the cultural traditions boast a culinary legacy that is passed from generation to generation; and from the heart of Catalan’s Executive Chef, Antonio Saez, who – hailing from Barcelona – is Catalan through and through and whose passion for his culinary heritage is manifested in every dish he prepares. Antonio talks to KM about his life, passions and deep-rooted inspirations.

When did you decide you wanted to become a Chef and what inspired to do so?
Ever since the first day I stepped into my mother’s kitchen, I have been fascinated by the world of ingredients, flavours, textures, sounds and smells. From a very early age, my favorite place in the house was our bustling kitchen.

What inspires you and drives your passion for cooking?
My wife, my sons and my daughter.

What is it about Catalan that sets it apart from other fine dining restaurants in the region?
Authentic dishes, genuine cooking methods, traditional recipes and the freshest ingredients, which we source regularly from Barcelona.

Catalan has been a roaring success from its opening in May, 2013 – to what do you attribute to its success?
Fresh ingredients from Barcelona, including Catalan extra virgin olive oil, morels, red prawns, sardines, and milk fed lamb.

What new ingredients are inspiring you at the moment?
Fresh ingredients from Barcelona, including Catalan extra virgin olive oil, morels, red prawns, sardines, and milk fed lamb.

Food is strongly evocative, which dish or dishes evoke the fondest memories for you?
The taste of the dishes that my mother used to cook such as Cod Fish, Seafood Paella, and Catalan Crea, conjure the most stirring and happy memories.

What are some of your favourite dishes on the menu?
Marinated Sardines with fresh Sofrito, Beetroot Cream and Smoked Anchovy Canapé, or the Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Cardamom Soup and Pistachio Biscuit.

If you could cook for and dine with anyone in the world (past or present), who would that be and why?
Santi Santamaria, a renowned gastronome and the first Catalan Chef and owner to have his restaurant receive three Michelin stars. Unfortunately, he passed away several years ago.

What is the one kitchen gadget that you couldn’t live without and why?
The spoon, which allows us to taste each dish we prepare.

What is the secret to cooking world-class Catalonian cuisine?
Honouring tradition, remembering authentic recipes and ingredients and admiration for the most humble foods. Catalan cuisine has been influenced by a mixture of cultures, including Spanish, Arabic, Roman, Italian, and French. This shapes the cuisine’s heritage and identity.

Where: Rosewood Abu Dhabi
Must-Have Dishes: Smoked Leek Soup, Sautéed Scallops, Carrots, Wild mushroom Stew; Catalan Seafood Paella, Fresh Vegetables, Prawns, Mussels, Calamari.
Décor: Classically modern European. Traditional gold and white meets elegant ribbon-grained fine woods offset by contemporary touches.
Ambience: A romantic and intimate setting, but also caters for larger groups.
Open: Dinner 7pm-11.30pm
For Reservations: +971 2 813 5550