Hong Kong is a long way from Spain. Was it an easy decision to move here? "I made my decision pretty quickly. Our group executive chef, Jesus Pascual, brought me on board and I asked him a lot of questions before I came, so that helped. It was my first time in Hong Kong and, when I arrived, it shocked me a bit because everything is so different from Spain. Everything goes so fast. But it was easy for me to adapt to Hong Kong and I started to enjoy it quite a lot. It's been three months now."
Have you always wanted to be a chef? "I had a job developing security systems but, when I was 32, I decided I wanted to become a chef and enrolled myself in culinary school. It was not a very hard transition - I've been cooking a lot since I was very young. I enjoy experimenting with different dishes. It's just I'd never tried doing it as a professional."
Do you remember the first dish you made? "Yes, it was an orange cake. I took my mum's recipe book, picked one and tried making it on my own. It was good. I was eight."
What do you enjoy most about being a chef? "It's been 10 years since I became a chef and I still love seeing my customers enjoy their meals as much as I've enjoyed preparing them. It's something I learnt from my mum, who has the most influence in my cooking. I realise when she is cooking for me and the other people in the house, she doesn't do it just to feed us, but to make us happy. That's how I learned that cooking is not just about the food, but also about spreading happiness and expressing one's feelings."
Who is your culinary idol? "Juan Mari Arzak [owner of the Michelin three-star Arzak, in San Sebastian, Spain]. He is a great chef who combines traditional food with modern techniques. He has great respect for produce and its natural taste. I've been following him and reading his books for a long time."
What have you brought to Olé's menu? "I'm from Badajoz, where the cuisine contains lots of Iberico pork and lamb. It's not as much about seafood as some other areas of Spain. One of my signature dishes is the milk-fed baby lamb shoulder in PX [Pedro Ximénez] wine sauce. We use two-week-old lamb, marinate it with herbs such as rosemary, thyme, bay leaf and garlic, and - very importantly - sherry, and slow cook it for six hours. The wine, together with honey, adds to the dish's sweetness and aroma. I also do a nice fork-tender Iberico pork cheek."
What other dishes are you going to introduce to Hong Kong diners? "Migas extremeñas. It's a very popular dish in my hometown. It's made with chopped bread, which we soak in water, with garlic, paprika, chorizo, pork belly and green pepper. All the ingredients are sautéed in a black wok for a long, long time. It's very tiring, actually. But the bread will become very nice and crispy. We serve it as is or with fried or poached eggs."