Chefs on StarChefs

1000 S. Miami Ave
Miami, FL 33130

Biography »

Amy Tarr: Why did you start cooking? What or who inspired you to become a chef?
Jordi Vallès: I used to help my mom when I was a boy. She’d give me an easy task, one at least I could learn. In Europe, kids start to understand and learn about food by walking down the street, seeing what’s cooking from the aromas. We always keep the training we learn from our moms.

AT: You attended Escola D’Hostaleria in Barcelona. Would you recommend culinary school to aspiring chefs today?
JV: Before school I’d recommend working in a kitchen for a few years, so you have a base. Wait a little bit before going to school, so you know you’ll want to do it for the rest of your life.

AT: Can you talk about your brilliant mentors?
JV: Pedro Subijana is the real teacher for me. I spent one year at Akelarre with 30 people in the kitchen, everyday learning things. One day he came to me and said, “Codfish, morels, and cheese.” He told me to prepare something for the following ay with these ingredients. I didn’t sleep all night! Pedro Subijana is an amazing teacher. Juan Mark Arzak, he cooks in the name of The Basque Country. He’s the godfather, the face of Spain since the ‘60s. He’s the ambassador. About Ferrán, he gave me a great chance. He gave me a stage, and then he asked me to be Chef de Cuisine at on the fish station.

AT: Which chefs do you consider to be your peers?
JV: People I can spend time talking about food with. I like Wylie Dufresne a lot. Michelle Bernstein, Edgar Leal, Marc Ehrler, Jeffrey Vigilia at The Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne (we worked together for three years).

more >>


Mosaico and Salero | Miami, FL

Most chefs consider themselves fortunate to have an opportunity, no matter how brief, to cook with one of Spain's innovative chefs. Jordi Vall鑣 has worked with three leaders of the culinary revolution there, including Pedro Subijana, Juan Mari Arzak, and Ferr醤 Adri? Born and raised in Barcelona, Jordi is an ambassador for the new style of Spanish cuisine in the US. His embassy is based at Mosaico and Salero restaurants in Miami. Vall鑣 continually seeks inspiration for his art by exploring the diverse cultures around him, using quality and freshness to link the classic with the avant-garde.

Lobster Esqueixada with Tomato Consommé and Olive Powder

Chef Jordi Vallès of Mosaico and Salero Restaurants – Miami, FL
Adapted by StarChefs

Yield: 4 Servings


    Tomato consomm?
  • 16 ounces blood red tomatoes
  • 5 gelatin leaves
    Olive powder:
  • 10 black olives
    Lobster esqueixada:
  • 1 (2 ?pound) live Maine lobster
  • 2 ounces diced green pepper
  • 2 ounces diced red pepper
  • 1?ounces diced yellow onion
  • 1 teaspoon limejuice Salt and freshly ground back pepper
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons basil oil
For tomato consommé:
Chop tomatoes and strain through a chinois with a cheesecloth, reserving the liquid from the tomatoes in a bowl. Hydrate gelatin leaves in warm water and then add to tomato water. Season mixture with salt, and allow to cool. The texture of the consommé should be slightly thick – not too runny, and not a solid gelatin.

For olive powder:
Drain ten olives and chop. Spread chopped olives over a hotel pan and place in a low-temperature oven until dry. Once olives are dry, repeat the chopping process, until olives are finely ground into a powder.

For lobster esqueixada:
Put 1 inch of salted water in the bottom of a large pot. Bring water to a rolling boil over high heat. Put in the live lobster, cover the pot, and steam for approximately 7 minutes. Do not cook lobster completely. Rinse in cold water to cool. Remove and clean the meat from the shells by hand (which is what the term “esqueixar” means in Catalan). Break the tail and claw meat into bite-size pieces.

Mix the lobster meat, diced pepper, onion, limejuice, salt and black pepper in a bowl and marinate for two minutes.

To serve:
Using two Tablespoons, shape a small amount of the marinated lobster into a quenelle and place on a serving plate. Spoon tomato consommé around lobster and sprinkle with olive powder. Garnish the plate with a drizzle of olive oil and basil oil.

Interview Cont'd

AT: Are there any secret ingredients that you especially like? Why?
JV: Rabbit. It’s difficult to get rabbit in Miami, so it’s not so common. I also love to use hake fish cheeks- “kokotxas” (pronounced co-co-chas). I have a special vendor from Spain who provides me with fresh sardines, sea cucumber, goby fish, etc.

AT: What is your most indispensable kitchen tool? Why?
JV: Aside from my staff, the thermomix blender – it’s made by Volwark. It can mix and heat at the same time. So, for example, for Hollandaise sauce, you program the weight, temperature, and level of blend. It’s an amazing tool.

AT: Is there a culinary technique that you have either created or use in an unusual way?
JV: There’s a soup I created in Barcelona – a chilled green apple soup with gratin of lobster. It’s made with nougat of pine nuts and peanuts, and I grind the nougat over the lobster, then place it in the salamander to caramelize. It’s influenced by a dish in Akelarre, but the nougat is influenced by El Bulli.

AT: What is your favorite question to ask during an interview for a potential new line cook?
JV: What will you offer to our cuisine with your experience? It’s a way to see if a person will be involved, whether they are passionate or not.

AT: What tips would you offer young chefs just getting started?
JV: Read, read, and read. Even in the restroom sitting. Never enough.

AT: What are your favorite cookbooks?
JV: Ferrán Adrià’s first cookbook - not El Bulli, Escoffier’s Ma Cuisine, Pierre Gagniere’s Reflections of Culinary Artistry, all of the books by Michel Bras.

AT: What cities do you like for culinary travel?
JV: London, NY, Vegas, Paris. A lot of good restaurants are outside of the major cities in the country, beside Spain.

AT: What are your favorite restaurants in Miami
JV: Matsuri- it’s a small Japanese restaurant in Miami.

AT: Where do you see yourself in 5 years? In 10 years?
JV: That’s actually a question I like to ask potential chefs, too! But in five years I see myself in Asia and writing a lot. In ten years probably opening up my own place, but I don’t know where. It will be in a place where I can get good produce and ingredients. And my restaurant will be a tiny one where the food cost is 80%!

   Published: October 2004