Two Spaniards "educating" in the United Kingdom
Nieves Barragán (Sabor, London, England) and Miguel Ángel Mayor (Rioja, Glasgow, Scotland) tell their own stories of how they arrived in the United Kingdom to "continue practising pedagogy on Spanish gastronomy".
“The formula is to give our recipes taste and provide a good service". This was how Nieves Barragán summed up the formula of her success in the United Kingdom, where she arrived 21 years ago to learn English and also to learn about other kinds of cuisine, and stayed there to make a success out of the Spanish bar format Barrafina. “That was the best part of my life, but I wanted to spread my wings and set up my own business", which she did in 2017 with Sabor, a restaurant with three spaces, a bar and a grill space, "an unknown concept in London".
To do it right, she went to Segovia to take a look at their ovens. “I wasn't going to open without an oven. I was sure of that”. And she came through and met with success again "because cookery is universal and our recipes have flavour, which is what people want". She proved it by showcooking an anglerfish tempura with black garlic "alioli" sauce ("when I started up back in the year 2000 people had no idea what it was") and an Iberian ham dashi with Manzanilla en Rama sherry.
“They may be more or less interested in it, but we have to explain it".
From a chef who arrived there over 20 years ago, to another who arrived only 12 years ago. Miguel Ángel Mayor moved to the British Isles in the wake of the pandemic, following closure of the restaurant where he was working, Sucede* (Valencia). In Scotland, Mayor headed up a group of outlets under Rioja, “a Spanish restaurant, albeit with a focus on cocktails, which is very important in Glasgow”.
“Everything, absolutely everything, goes with something else. Snacks are always accompanied by cocktails, by way of a complement", he explained as he "cooked up" a few liquid and solid examples, including a tribute to Inés Rosales' typical Andalusian oil tarts, alongside a classic Scottish haggis with Irn-Bru, Scotland's most popular beverage, "outstripping Coca-Cola, a drink we also use in another format to round off other recipes”.
Mayor is very sure of his current function: “When customers come to us, we try to give them a good explanation of what we do, who we are, and what our idea is. It's important for people to become acquainted with Spanish produce. Then you get people who are more or less interested in it, but we know we have to carry out that function".