Dabiz Muñoz

October 3, 2018


The child who came up with outrageous recipes

Saturday, 16 November 1991. Little Dabiz stands, waiting nervously on the right-hand pavement of the Calle de los Fundadores. He is accompanied by his father. He sees the ‘man in a hat’ come out, and finally makes up his mind. He hurries along, blocking the man’s way. After a brief conversation, he gets the well-deserved trophy. The recipe for that singular foie gras is now his. His dad is not surprised. He knows his son and knows he is headstrong. Furthermore, he has seen him at home preparing fish and meat, outrageous recipes, creations brimming with the imagination and ingenuity of a whippersnapper not even twelve years old. This setting for little guy’s creative apex is his grandparents’ house in the village. There, with the entire family together, all his potential is unfolded. Crockery, cutlery, sets of glasses ... and a kitchen that includes the best ingredients, vegetables, soups and desserts. Dabiz enjoys cooking in his artificial reality, and his culinary universe is based on an arsenal of little plastic meals and distillates made of soil. He doesn’t care. He spends hours typing the menus that will list all the culinary ideas he will later serve up to his relatives. He uses an old typewriter. Dabiz, naïve and enthusiastic, thinks nothing of including creations, such as Carabineros al horno gratinados con salsa de su cabeza y torta de verduras light (Gratin of red prawns with a sauce made from their heads, and a light vegetable pie) or Carne de tiburón de la parte del abdomen a le grill (Flesh from the abdomen of a shark a le grill’ on these menus. His Huesitos holandeses a la parrilla de carbón granadino con salsa rosa de ginebra y verduras alemanas (Dutch bones char grilled over coal from Granada with a pink gin sauce and German vegetables) or Boquerones rellenos de alcaparras y butifarras gallegas con su salsa (Anchovies stuffed with capers amd Galician sausages in sauce) are not pretentious (but are perhaps a little exotic?). The menu includes, of course, ‘recommended dishes’ and ‘shots on the house’. His family, however, is surprised by this precocious combination of reality and imagination. How is it possible for a child to come up with recipes like Camarones con queso fundido y salsa curry clareada con pedro ximenez (Prawns with melted cheese and curry sauce lightened with Pedro Ximénez) or Soup de caldo del pueblo con carne de jabalí y esencia de las frutas del bosque (Local village broth/soup with wild boar and wild-berry essence)? His prose is peculiar and pompous. In addition, the combination of the ingredients used for his menus are somewhat over the top. They are reminiscent of ‘that gentleman in a hat whose cooking is strange’. He knows him well. He goes to his restaurant from time to time. As neither he nor his brother drink alcohol – and the tasting menu includes drinks – his parents solve the problem by designing an ad hoc alternative: they request four different dishes that are plated symmetrically in quarters. These are then rotated so that everyone can try each dish in equal measure. A few years later, Dabiz fulfilled his dream and began working with Abraham García, that cook he admired so much and on whom – as a child – he based his highly individual recipes that he offered to friends and relatives. Later, his inquisitive spirit led him to continue researching and analysing other top restaurants. Until, in London, he was definitively captivated by Asian cuisine. In 2007 he opened his own restaurant in the capital. At DiverXo, Dabiz Muñoz offered his omnivorous voracity of dishes, placing them in front of diners who, somewhat flustered, witnessed a unique culinary codification. A representation with a difference and ambition, yet seemingly without limits. At DiverXo, Dabiz showed off his youthful boldness and, at the same time, his mature and extensive culinary journey. He surprised everyone with his singularly conceptual ideas, which were a far cry from the usual Asian fare. In 2009 he opened splendid new premises. In addition, justice was served and he received his first Michelin star. Then came the second and third star, and he became an international benchmark thanks to his pirouette of flavours, his mestizo juggling, his sensitivity and virtuosity that integrated techniques, ingredients, cooking methods ... Young Muñoz is an amalgam of a wealth of important facts that have made him an indispensable part of our gastronomic reality: helped from the start by an extremely non-conformist and personal conception of gastronomy, he has developed his professional path without straying from it, constructing an extraordinarily creative and personal line that is continuous and faithful to his principles, and creating a cuisine that is a reflection of his curiosity, a nomadic cuisine, that of an inexhaustible traveller. In short, a cuisine whose discourse is armed with courage, rationality, hyperactivity, honesty and an expressiveness that is touching. N.B. The dishes that appear in the text have been copied word for word from the menus that Dabiz Muñoz wrote up as a child. Borja Beneyto