The Magic of Saffron
In his eyes, a good chef is a chef who works in harmony with his surroundings, just like with his cooks. “Our work consists of a lot more than cooking in the restaurant,” he says. “It is our responsibility as the chefs of haute cuisine, to look after the local food producers, to protect the environment and express it.”

When he is asked about his favorite local raw materials, he says that “there are a lot of them”, but mentions in particular the exotic saffron, that he has been exploring for many years: “It is a delicate spice, special, elegant and is also very powerful. It has a complex taste, an unmistakable aroma. It is versatile and therefore can be used in many ways in the kitchen – starting from hot dishes and rice dishes, through white meats and up to dessert.” Recently, Moya was chosen by the Israeli agro-tech company “Saffron Tech” (that has developed a method to grow Saffron in industrial controlled laboratory conditions) to be the ambassador of the red gold, of which Spain is the world’s second largest exporter. He also wrote a recipe book that deals with this very special flower.


These days Moya is going to cook beyond the borders of Spain for the first time. Together with his two Michelin stars, he will come to Israel to lead the restaurant “Poppa” in Tel Aviv and spread his Mediterranean culinary creed in the Holy Land. “I am excited to come to that wonderful country,” says Moya, “I know that historically the Israeli cuisine has a lot in common with the Spanish cuisine. I would like to deepen my knowledge of it and explore its spices, dishes, salads and sweets.”

“Kiko Moya is one of the most prominent representatives today of the gastronomic avantgarde on the south-eastern coast of Spain” according to the Spanish magazine “Food and Wine”. “His L’Escaleta is a temple that honors the local product based on local farms close to the restaurant and the jewels that the Mediterranean offers. It seems that Kiko Moya has no doubts about the path he wants to follow”

OUR CHEF

KIKO MOYA
When I create a dish, I always try to tell a story through it: of a view, of the of the ingredients, of the season….I really love to talk about the mountainous landscape that surrounds me: the dishes that best express this are those that move me the most, especially when they convey simplicity and fragility.
(Chef Kiko Moya, L’Escaleta)

Chef Kiko Moya is considered today as one of the most revolutionary, interesting and prominent chefs in Europe – and has two Michelin stars for his admired restaurant “L’Escalata” in Spain. He was born in 1976 in south-eastern Spain in a small, enchanting town called Cocentaina in the Alicante province of Southern Valencia, a region surrounded by mountains and blessed with a Mediterranean climate.

He is a second-generation restauranteur. In 1980 his father, Paco Moya, and his cousin, Ramiro Radrado, established the restaurant “L’Escaleta”, located in the foothills of the Mariola mountains and overlooking breathtaking scenery. At the age of ten he first donned an apron despite being just a small child – and never missed a Saturday in the restaurant, hiding in its kitchen, listening to the sizzling sounds of the pans and the orders of the staff. There, among the flames and the heavy metal pots, his culinary identity was shaped and already then Moya knew what he was destined to do. “My real knowledge of the kitchen I learned at home – L’Escaleta – from Uncle Ramiro,” he says. “The main things I learned from him are honesty, passion and dedication. That gave me a lot of confidence in the kitchen.”

To reimagine every day, to thrill
When he grew up he went to work for several years in the best restaurants in Spain – amongst them “El Bulli” and “El Celler de Can Roca” – and, in 1988, when he came back home, he and his cousin, the sommelier Alberto Radrado, took the reins of the family restaurant. Together they won it two Michelin stars, all the while keeping up the culinary heritage of their fathers (with classic dishes like Basque Fish Stew with Garlic, Peppers and Tropical Salad). They also introduced current textures and tastes (with dishes like Iberian Pork and Ashes of Onions, Sweet Rice, dried and squared and Cured Shrimps). “The restaurant has to combine the new and the classic dishes in order to create haute cuisine. As a chef, every day you need to reimagine and thrill”, says Moya.

And indeed, almost like a museum full of facts and history, Moya’s food tells the story of the family restaurant whose recipes have been passed down from generation to generation but have also been greatly influenced by the environment that he created throughout his life and by the warm and happy Mediterranean character of Valencia. “When I create a dish, I always try to tell some sort of story through it: of the landscape, the raw materials, of the season. Therefore, the aesthetics of the dish have to be connected to the taste. I really love to talk about the mountain view that surrounds me; the dishes that best express this are those that move me the most, especially when they convey simplicity and fragility.”

He doesn’t like “gimmicky food with tricks that try to distract the mind of the diner. In my eyes, the product and the taste are what are important in a dish”. His wonderful, unique food – a combination of Basque and Valencian – combine different cooking techniques, updated and looking to the future.

“I like to examine the past, but my restaurant is not a restaurant with a traditional kitchen, but it is also not a restaurant with a modern kitchen. It is an avantgarde, hedonistic kitchen that seeks the happiness of the diner.”