Chef Núñez is currently the Corporate Chef for Mangia Restaurant Group, where he oversees culinary operations for the company’s Manhattan locations. Previously Chef Núñez served as Corporate Chef of Quimeria Think Group, and Executive Chef of Barraca and Melibea Restaurants.
Having arrived on the New York culinary scene nearly four years ago, Chef Núñez, described as the “Spanish enfant terrible,” by New York Magazine, brought his unique culinary vision and artistic style to the Upper West Side with his restaurant Gastroarte (fka Graffit). Here Chef Núñez served playful and contemporary takes on traditional Spanish and Mediterranean cuisine, earning the distinction of “Key Newcomer” in the Culinary Innovator category of the 2012 Zagat Guide.
Chef Núñez has since been featured in The New York Times, New York Magazine, New York Post, The Wall Street Journal, Gotham magazine, Village Voice, The Huffington Post and Paper Magazine, among other publications, in addition to numerous blogs and Web sites. He has made appearances on the Food Network’s “Iron Chef America,” FOX’s “Good Day New York,” CBS’ “Tony’s Table” segment, as well as on CNN, NBC and TVE (Televisión Española).
Prior to moving to New York, Chef Núñez was the Owner and Executive Chef of critically acclaimed Madrid restaurants Polenta and Flou, which were hailed as innovative culinary workshops by the likes of Vogue, Elle, Gourmet and InStyle, among other publications in Spain. Chef Núñez also briefly served as Spain’s culinary ambassador to Korea. He graduated from the Casa de Campo Escuela Superior de Hostelería y Turismo with degrees in the culinary arts and tourism.
Easy questions to warm up…
How did you become a Chef ?
What is your “motto-quote” in life ?
When I was 20, I wanted to be an artist and a photographer. At the time I was a graffiti artist, and through experimentation in the kitchen, I discovered I could create small pieces of edible art with food. After this I decided to become a chef.
“Fight for your dreams and if you fall, get back up and fight”
How would you describe your character with 5 words?
Sincere, honest, hardworking, quiet, dreamer
What are your weaknesses if any ?
Sometimes I can be too trusting in people, and I often end up disappointed.
What do you see yourself doing in 5 years’ time?
I don’t like to think about the future or the past. I live in the present. Although I know one thing for sure: Five years from now I will still be a chef. Cooking is my life.
More Professional questions…
What qualities you value in most cooks ?
I value creativity and the desire to always be better and continually evolve. I look for perseverance–people who don’t give up on something even after they’ve failed. I also value ambitioun, people with big hearts and a lot of knowledge, and team players.
What mistakes in the kitchen you will never forgive ?
I don’t like lazy people. If you make a mistake because you were lazy, I will not forget it.
Who is the chef you admire the most ?
Albert Adria, he changed the way people see food.
What would be your worst kitchen nightmare ?
After 21 years in the business, I’ve experienced and survive every kitchen nightmare in the book.
What is the secret of your success ?
Hard work and the mixture of my personal style with the Peter Pan-qualities of my personality.
More Personal questions…
What are your favorite local specialty and International specialty?
Local specialty: New York cheesecake; International: a good Italian brick oven pizza
Which Cuisine is your favorite?
Which is your favorite dish?
Fried eggs, french fries and bellota ham.
What you do not eat?
I eat everything
What you didn’t like to eat as a child?
Which is your favorite restaurant?
I don’t have one
Which is your favorite holiday destination?
Any place I’ve never been before
Which is your favorite drink ?
What is your favorite activity ?
Creating something new
Your favorite movie ?
Your favorite cookbook ?
Natura, Albert Adria
More spicy questions…
What is the most crazy thing you have done in your life?
The craziest thing I’ve done was probably becoming a chef and–even crazier–opening a restaurant. Most people don’t understand that you have to be a little crazy to do both of these things.
Have you done something in your life that you wish you haven’t and what was it?
I do not regret anything. I am who I am thanks to everything–good and bad–that I’ve done in the past.
Who you would like to take out for a Dinner and where?
I would like to take Angelina Jolie to an Italian restaurant. I think she needs some calories…
What and Who would you take on a desert Island ?
I would take my girlfriend and a boat, so we could make it back home.
Who is the sexiest Celebrity Chef by your opinion?
Sexy chefs? Mmm…no idea. Me when I was younger, haha.
Who would you like to be locked in the kitchen with, for one night (after service)?
With the spirit of Sun Tzu.
Which is your favorite “ Soul food” dish that you’ve created and can we have the recipe?
” Spanish soul food” Croquetas de Jamon:
1/2 cup (100ml) chicken broth
8 tbsp olive oil
3/4 cup (107 gr) flour
1 1/2 cups (350 ml) milk
1/2 tsp nutmeg
dash of ground pepper
1/2 cup very finely hand-minced ham
2 eggs, lightly beaten with 2 teaspoons water
bread crumbs for coating
olive oil for frying
In a saucepan, melt butter; stir in curry powder and flour. Gradually add milk and chicken stock. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Remove from the heat. Stir in ham and mix well add nutmeg, black pepper and salt. Cover and chill thoroughly.
With wet hands, shape mixture into 10 balls. Roll balls in bread crumbs; shape each into a cone. Whisk together egg and water. Dip cones into egg mixture; roll again in crumbs.
Heat oil in a deep-fat fryer to 375°. Fry croquettes, a few at a time, for 2 to 2-1/2 minutes or until golden brown. Drain on paper towels; keep warm.