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Oscar VELASCO

Head Chef – 2 Michelin starred Santceloni Restaurant, Hesperia Madrid
The man who accidentally found himself in a kitchen and decided to make a career out of it…
Born in Segovia, the young Oscar Velasco reluctantly took a job as a kitchen help in a small restaurant in his native city hoping to move on to “better” things in life. Surprisingly, he enjoyed the experience so much that he enrolled in the Segovia Hospitality School and trained in other prestigious restaurants such as the Zalacain Restaurant to become a chef.

Oscar Velasco, Hesperia Spain
When did you know that you wanted to become a chef?
It was not until I had started work in the kitchen that it dawned on me that it would be a profession that I would be interested in.

What fresh ideas did you bring to the table when you started working under a Chef?
I preferred to work under a Head Chef to learn the ropes. I was not very confident at the time so I felt that I had a lot to learn; so it was not until I became Executive Chef that I started to become very creative.

What is your signature dish?
I have not created it.

If Obama were to come to dinner what would you cook for him?
Free range chicken with sweet and sour paprika ratatouille and wheat crust (Click here for recipe). This food defines Santceloni and is based on our traditional way of cooking. You see it, taste it and it exceeds your expectations.

What are some of the challenges you face as a Chef
As a chef, you never know what is going to happen in your kitchen from one day to the next. The unexpected always happens. One day all the lights went out in the middle of a service and we had to manage to carry out business as usual under total darkness and chaos.

Another poignant challenge was following the death of my mentor whose legacy is immeasurable. I had a wonderful professional and personal relationship with him. Though as ordinary persons we were complete opposites, I was very organized and he was not, he taught me how to lead a team and work within a team remembering that they are working with you because they actually want to and not because they have to. It was a good lesson that has helped me to be successful to date.

If you had to change anything at all in the world, what would it be?
I would change tolerance. If only we could stop to feel things in another person’s shoes, we would appreciate and understand things more and everything would be better.

Do you like travelling and what is your favourite travel destination?
I like to travel all the time and appreciate rich culture and good cuisine. I am not a “beach bum”.

Do you have any advice for new and up and coming chefs?
To become a good Chef, you need to have passionate about cooking. It is hard work and if you are lucky, you will get recognition. It is like when you are in a truck driving steadily on a road; there are many cars that go past you very fast and leave you behind but at the end of the year, it is the truck that has travelled the farthest because it hasn’t stopped; the truck’s journey has been consistent

Try making the Free range chicken with sweet and sour paprika ratatouille with wheat crust. Follow the recipe below:

Wheat crust for sweet and sour ratatouille
Ingredients
Free Range Chicken breast-
2 range chicken breasts
250 grams of fine salt
Sweet and Sour paprika sauce. -
50 cl of paprika oil:
50 cl of extra virgin oil
2 grams of sweet paprika
100 grams of honey
50 grams of Xerez vinegar
30 grams of extra virgin oil
Salt
Wheat crust.-
1 kg of wheat flour
500 grams of warm water
20 grams of salt
20 grams of baking powder
80 g of pitted olives
25 grams of olive oil

Ratatouille.-
250 grams of onion
125 grams of red pepper
125 grams of green pepper
125 grams of courgette
1 garlic
30 grams of tomato saue
Salad
Sorrel
Amaranth
Carrot sprouts

Recipe
Sweet and sour paprika sauce. We start preparing the paprika oil. First of all, we introduce in a ladle 25 cl of olive oil with the garlic at low temperature until it gets crispy. We remove it from the heat, fry gently and then add the paprika and the rest of the olive oil. Whisk it with a beater to decrease the temperature in order to avoid that the paprika burning. Leave it for 5 minutes and bottle it through a sieve. We preserve it cold.
In another ladle we introduce the honey with the Xerez vinegar, heat it and wait until the honey became dissolved with the vinegar. Then leave this ladle away from the heat. Once this sauce is cold, use a blender and add the paprika oil and the salt. Once it finished, leave it apart and reserve.
Free Range chicken breasts
Marinate the range chicken breast with the fine salt for 10 minutes. Once these ten minutes, washed them with cold water and use a napkin to get rid of the water. Then introduce the range chicken breasts in a vacuum bag with the sweet and sour sauce and cook them for 30 minutes at 57 Celsius grades in the roner compact. After that, cold the bag and wait at least four hours.
After that time, open the bag and cut the breasts in narrow slices with a knife. Add the bittersweet sauce.
Ratatouille
Add some olive oil in a pan and one garlic and cook it until it becomes browned. When the garlic is done, add the onion in narrow slices and cook it for one minute at high temperature before it gets brown. Add the two peppers cut in slices without the skin and the seeds and cook them in the same way.
Finally, add the courgette and some fine salt and cook it for another minute. Add salt if required and apart the pan from the heat. For doing this, use a sieve to get rid of the excess of oil. Put the ratatouille in a bowl, add a spoon of tomato sauce with fine salt and reserve it in cold.
Wheat crust
Put the flour in table (like a shape of a volcano) and add the salt. In another bowl introduce some water and dissolve the baking powder. Add the pitted olives and put this mix in the center of the flour. Mix that dough until it gets hard. Work this dough for at least 15 minutes until it gets smooth and uniform.
Put the dough I a bowl covered with a damp cloth and leave it two hours in a cold place until the dough reaches it double size.
Then work the dough with a roller to broke the fermentation. Stretch the dough over the table with a roller Keep these dough sheets in a tray inside the freezer for 15 minutes.
After this time, cut the dough in slides of 10x3 cm and in a pan with abundant oil fried them at 160 Celsius degrees until they get brown. Dry the slices with absorbent kitchen paper and leave the in a fresh area.
To end, above the wheat crust put a layer of ratatouille. Above the wheat crust put the chicken making some volume and finish the recipe by putting some cut fresh herbs at the last moment.

 

Executive Traveller 2003