Cheat Day: Ferran Tadeo, Executive Chef of La Rambla by Catalunya

Hong Kong boasts one of the most dynamic dining scenes on the planet, filled with culinarians and tastemakers galore. In our Cheat Day column, we spotlight some of the top players in the kitchen and behind the bar, delving into their personal favourites during their days off. This week, we speak to Chef Ferran Tadeo of La Rambla by Catalunya.

Chef Ferran Tadeo of La Rambla

Chef Ferran Tadeo started his career in traditional Catalan restaurants when he was only 17 years old. Wanting to expand his technical knowledge, he moved on to fine dining, working under some of the best Spanish chefs – Ferran Adria of El Bulli, Xavier Pellicer at Abac, and Jordi Vila of Alkimia. 

When asked about the best professional advice he’d received working under such greats, Tadeo was more than happy to share. “When El Bulli was closing in 2012, Chef Ferran Adria said to me, ‘You will look back on this in a few years and see the important impact this will have on your journey.’ I didn’t understand what he meant at the time, but now I realise that roadblocks are only temporary and it’s about the journey, not the destination.” 

His first opportunity to lead a kitchen team came when a friend, Miguel Angel, promoted him to Sous Chef under Chef Sergi Arola. “I’m forever grateful that they took a chance on me,” Tadeo says. “After working with Chef Sergi, I opened El Nacional in Barcelona with Carles Tejedor, and also assisted with his Oil Motion project.” 

Lubina A La Sal at La Rambla

For Tadeo, his journey has taught him that every component of a dining experience is key to create a memorable affair. “It’s all about the little things, from the ambiance of the dining room and the service, to the coffee after dessert and even the restrooms,” he explains. “Even if a meal was delicious, these often-overlooked details make or break the experience.” 

Speaking about his move to Hong Kong, he shares, “I’ve always wanted to work in Asia, so when I was recruited by Leading Nation Hospitality to head up the famed Catalunya opened by my El Bulli peers in Hong Kong, I jumped at the opportunity.” 

Chef Ferran Tadeo’s new à la carte sea-to-table menu featuring innovative preparations of the world’s finest ingredients from sea and land are now available at La Rambla by Catalunya.  

What is your signature dish? Tell us about it.   

I have several! My signature dishes at La Rambla are the Ensaladilla Rusa, Churros & Caviar and Seafood Canelon which are some of my new a la carte dishes. These dishes are representative of La Rambla’s concept of elevating and modernising traditional Catalan tapas and dishes, as well as reflecting my culinary journey through Spain, the USA, Hong Kong and Asia.   

The Ensaladilla Rusa ($180) is my take on a traditional potato salad, made up of crispy potatoes with mustard and seaweed mayonnaise, then topped with Japanese chu-toro, piparras & a touch of soy sauce. I actually had the opportunity to cook in Tokyo alongside my mentor Chef Albert Adria and Wagyumafia’s Hisato Hamada, and my travels in Japan have definitely influenced this dish.   

Growing up, I loved churros. Churros & Caviar (180) may seem simple, but it’s a tricky dish to master. The sour cream filled churros have to be perfectly fluffy on the inside and crisp on the outside in order to balance the umami Baeri Caviar that we get from Kaviari. 

Our Seafood Canelon (220): Canelon is a traditional Catalan dish which is usually filled with chicken, beef or pork. In our new menu, we elevate it with Hokkaido scallop and crab meat wrapped in fresh pasta, crab bechamel and top it off with Japanese uni.

What is the best compliment you’ve received about your food?  

The best compliment I could receive is seeing a smile on my guests’ faces after their first bite.   

Describe yourself in three words.  

Hardworking, passionate, team-player. 

What life motto do you live by?  

“Always make time to enjoy life.” In my spare time I like to play tennis, try out the many restaurants Hong Kong has to offer, and of course, travel. Hopefully more borders will reopen soon!  

Do you cook when you are home? Which is a go-to dish for you?  

Whenever I have a chance to cook at home, I like to incorporate my favourite green peas into everything. Currently, one of my go-to dishes is prawns with green peas and we have a version of it at La Rambla too — Scampi & Sweet Peas, with Jamon Iberico & Scampi Sauce ($360). 

Cheat Day time! Which are your five go-to dishes in Hong Kong?

  • My friends took me to Din Tai Fung on my first visit to Asia, and we ordered everything on the menu. Their spicy dumplings have stayed with me ever since.
  • L'Envol
    During my first visit to L’Envol, I had the Grilled Tuna with Chef’s Signature Spice Mix. To me, this is an example of a perfectly balanced dish.
  • The simplest dishes are the hardest ones to master and Yat Lok Roast Goose has nailed their Roast Goose.
  • Happy Paradise interior
    I love the South Australian Lobster Egg Noodles at Happy Paradise — the flavourful handmade noodles with Chef May Chow’s family recipe XO sauce is simply divine.
  • The Wagyu Donburi at Mashi no Mashi is incredible. Ozaki beef and Japanese egg yolk make for the creamiest spoonful of rice I’ve ever had.

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