Once upon a time, in Cádiz, there was chap from Rota – and somewhat of a Francophile at that – called Juan Luis Fernández who decided to learn about cooking and work as a chef. He threw himself, body and soul, into what, over the past few years, has been the most significant gastronomic adventure of Spanish avant-garde cuisine at the restaurant Aponiente, together with Ángel León. He then – and following his love of all things French – asserted himself by creating a new, self-respecting cuisine: Franco-Andalusian cooking. And thus, the restaurant he now runs – LU, cocina y alma – came about.
‘Hey kid, what is this?
Very simple yet complex, it is also compagnon; it aims to fuse the academic knowledge of time-honoured, elegant and luxurious classic French cuisine with the modern ways and customs of Andalusian cooking and its innovative, creative, flavoursome and fiercely contemporary side, and, at the same time, update the region’s age-old and traditionally poor subsistence cuisine that today is prepared with produce from an impressive and unparalleled pantry.
‘Wow, that’s crazy! Mon dieu!’
Not at all, mon ami, because Juan Luis’s way of cooking embraces all the know-how, rites, and savour faire of great French cuisine which, since cutting his teeth as a commis de cuisine, made him fall head over heels – oui, monsieur, éperdument – in love, and there’s no craziness in that. Quite the opposite in fact, because he has brought to the lands of Andalusia and Spain a cuisine whose name was unfamiliar and which he has made known to new generations who were clueless about it and had never tasted it, yet older generations were given the chance to remember it and relive what they thought had been forgotten.
Sauces – Oh là là, le sauces – were to blame for his infatuation. Because no one in their right mind with good taste buds can resist the fatal attraction of a great sauce made comme il faut. Juan LU knows them all by heart, reeling them off and making them with his eyes closed, and to perfection, as required by the canons established by the best cooks in France.
‘But, dude, to do that I’ll just leg it to France and Bob’s your uncle.’
No way, José, because seigneur Fernández not only likes, but he can’t avoid the call of his Spanish, Andalusian and rebellious blood, which he inevitably conveys to his cooking, deservedly imbuing it with his personality and touch. Juan LU makes every royale ‘half-blooded’, be it lapin, hare or his own. Because Juan LU has inflicted these cuts on the palms of his hands, joined them together and sworn that the cuisines of France and Andalusia have become blood brothers forever.
At Madrid Fusión 2020, and together with Pep Pelfort, he will break a few eggs, give them a good beating, and explain the mysterious origins and the story surrounding a revolutionary sauce: mayo or mayonnaise! How and where will it end?