Meet the chef of Ibérica who offers mouth-watering and flavorful Spanish cuisine on the streets of Leeds

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Enric, 34, was born in the town of Argentona, a small village near the Catalan Mediterranean coast.

Her first culinary memories are the vivid smells of her grandmother’s home cooking, while the traditional dishes prepared such as Escalivada on the oven fire in her house.

“The smell of roasted peppers remains in my memory for a long time,” he recalls.

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Enric Garriga is the chef at the popular Spanish restaurant Ibérica in downtown Leeds. Photo: Simon Hulme

He started working in kitchens at the age of 15 and his first job was as a pastry chef, creating delicious sweet doughs and perfecting his Coulant de Chocolat.

Enric said: “I was amazed by the processes when I found out how the dishes were created.

“From a few simple ingredients, the magic could happen!

“Different flavors and complexities of dishes have emerged.

Ibérica’s chef, Enric Garriga, prepares the incredible croquetas with Serrano ham. Photo: Simon Hulme

“I loved the creativity and the freedom that can be taken to create new plates.”

His training as a chef saw Enric working with Josep Maria Freixas, a famous Catalan chef, whose son Ramón won two Michelin stars at his own eponymous restaurant.

He then worked as a chef at a restaurant in the mountains of Barcelona called Salmaia, before moving to the UK in 2014, where he started working at the Ibérica restaurant in London.

Enric’s culinary skills saw him rise through the ranks, moving to the Manchester restaurant as chef de partie, then moving to Leeds when it opened, taking on the role of chef.

Enric said: “My cooking style is Mediterranean gourmet with my ‘toque creativo’ (my creative touch).

“I love to experiment and push the boundaries with flavors and styles, always taking inspiration from the Spanish Mediterranean and, more recently, our Michelin-starred Executive Chef, Nacho Manzano.

“Our menu offers a wide variety of Spanish dishes, authentic in such a way that a native Spaniard would find himself at home here.”

He added: “Of course my favorite Ibérica dish is the croquetas. I love them. I haven’t met anyone who doesn’t in fact. These are the ultimate comfort foods.

“You will also find me ordering the twice cooked lamb on my visits and our latest addition to the menu, the Suquet, a traditional Catalan fish stew with hake, clams and mussels.

“Being Catalan just reminds me of home, and eating freshly made Suquet brings me back there with wonderful memories.”

The past 18 months have been tough for the hospitality industry, but Enric says the Ibérica team has worked to adapt, creating meal kits for people to cook at home and hosting tastings of Weekly wines online that proved to be so popular that they continued after the lockdown.

Now that the restaurants have reopened, Enric says patrons have enjoyed walking safely into the awe-inspiring venue, with its magnificent glass roof and art-adorned ceilings, and once again enjoying the authentic Spanish flavors. .

The restaurant is also relaunching the La Bodega bar in the cellar, with a more relaxed atmosphere, a different selection of excellent tapas drinks.

Enric said: “When the kitchen is busy and everything is going well, this is my favorite place in the world.

“Of course, there are stressful shifts and it’s difficult, but it makes coming home at the end of those shifts even more enjoyable.

“I like to learn different things every day, which in cooking is a sure thing, and of course my family always motivates me.”


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