'Extra virgin olive oil is the perfect food'

"Extra virgin olive oil is the perfect food"

2018/30/11 - Belonging to the third generation of a family of hoteliers, Mario Sandoval (Humanes, Madrid, 1977) - 2013 National Gastronomy Award and president of the Federation of Spanish Chefs and Confectioners (FACYRE)-, chef, entrepreneur and strategic gastronomy consultant, is considered above all a fighter, a restless type, fortunate and passionate about his work that finds in the constancy his best ally. Father of three children and always surrounded by his own, Mario Sandoval can write a lovestory about Coque -in 2000 he took the reins of the restaurant with his brothers-, but also about overcoming and nonconformity, which has placed him in the top of the most vibrant Spanish culinary vanguard. Mercacei collects an extract from the interview published in Mercacei Magazine 97.

Declared lover of gastrogenomics -the search for the flavor of each food to extract its DNA-, you carried out an investigation with 30 products of the Community of Madrid that you later planted in the urban garden of your restaurant. What can you tell me about this experience?
I'm crazy about gastronomy research. Therefore, I join with the best to get the most out of it, as I did in 2011 with Imidra. With the Institute of Rural Research, Development and Food of the Community of Madrid we work to study the recovery of fruits and vegetables native to Madrid from the study of their DNA. And yes, to do so, we planted seeds of autochthonous horticultural varieties. The study was called gastrogenomic, union of gastro (relative to the digestive or stomach) and genomic (set of sciences and techniques dedicated to the comprehensive study of the functioning, content, evolution and origin of genomes), and consisted in recovering the authentic and original taste of food from its genetic chain. The dish, gastrogenomics, is still present in Coque's menu.

You have said that "Extra virgin olive oil is the perfect food"... How would you define your relationship with EVOO? What are your first memories related to this product?
EVOO has always been present at home. It is an aroma and a flavor that is integrated in my family and, I understand, in many Spanish families. A good EVOO brings added value, flavor and, most importantly, health.

By the way, which one of your creations with EVOO do you feel more proud of? Which one has enjoyed greater acceptance among your customers?
Years ago we created "Olivo", a dish in the form of an olive bonsai where the oil was the main protagonist through oil pearls and olives. Besides this, pickles are never lacking in Coke, and even in the suckling pig, our watchword, olive oil plays a fundamental role.

The big challenge is to educate the consumer and promote extra virgin culture nationally and internationally. In your opinion, what would be the best way to conquer the consumer and reach those markets where the extra virgin is not yet known or has a residual importance?
Training, education and awareness. Great EVOOs will end up triumphing as other products of the same quality have done before. The kitchen may be healthy or not, also in haute cuisine, but EVOO always is. And it is constantly gaining followers.

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