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Interview with Jordi Grau

Interview with Jordi Grau

In Andorra, gastronomic excellence is linked to the Ibaya restaurant, a proposal that is based on the sensorial and emotional experience that comes from the tradition of more than 150 years of family culinary experiences of the chef Francis Paniego. An experience that evokes stories mouthful by mouthful and that Jordi Grau, as Executive Chef, materialises in each pass so that the diners live an unforgettable experience. These are the ingredients that have made Ibaya a Michelin-starred restaurant.



And if we talk about emotions, the best thing to do is to enjoy the whole process; that's why we look at the essence of Ibaya restaurant with Jordi Grau.


What is the new season at Ibaya looking like?


We are facing it very well, we are starting from the creative engines of previous seasons we are still committed to the territory and 0 km products. Apparently, it seems impossible for us to have these products from 1,800 metres away, but that is where a large part of our work lies; in looking for suppliers who are in line with our values and who have a common thread and a story to tell through our dishes.


Could it be said that every dish has a story behind it?


Of course, behind every dish there is a storytelling because ours is a cuisine full of stories.


The products are the protagonists of this new season based on the territory, but is there some kind of ingredient that you say is crucial for the dishes of the Ibaya restaurant?


Not all ingredients can be touched, a fundamental, albeit abstract one is tradition. We have always explained that the work that is always carried out at Ibaya from the first minute and on a daily basis is the work of introspection, of looking back to understand the present; it is very important to know where we come from. That is why this year we are opting for a revision of traditional and typical dishes such as escudella or a stew of squid with onions, but with a creative approach.


So, do you mix tradition and innovation?


Totally and also constantly, for example, a moment ago we presented Francis (Paniego) with a quince aioli as an accompaniment to some dishes.


In a world where nowadays, everything is innovation and everything is gels, textures, grammages... it is possible to innovate based on tradition, because, although it may seem incredible, to take and assemble an aioli with a mortar and pestle by hand as you have seen your mother or your grandmother do at a barbecue on the campsite, can be used in haute cuisine. These are no longer seen, the old way of cooking that has always been there.


What does it mean to work with Francis Paniego?


Our relationship is natural, based on trust and respect. When we met it was like a blind date because he didn't know me, and I knew about him, I knew about his reputation, but I didn't know what he looked like. We had to start working together and from the beginning we understood each other's position and both of us have managed it very well for the benefit of the project and what we must do here. The truth is that it's great.


We would like to know how this fusion between Francis Paniego and Jordi Grau comes about in such a special place as the Hotel Hermitage.


It may sound cliché, but it was a vote of confidence for which I will always be grateful. Francis Paniego arrived at a time of change at the Hotel, when they were looking for a chef with the excellent reputation that he had, but who also had gastronomic experience and a unique culinary background.


In this case, it was me, a more anonymous person, that the property came looking for me because, although I had been here since 2011, it was in 2019 when the property saw in me the professional, they needed. At that time, it was not in my plans to take on that responsibility, but I knew from the beginning that I had to accept, because this is my home.


If you want to enjoy a sensory and emotional experience through a menu full of stories, you just must come to Ibaya.