«Olive oil is one of the cornerstones of Andalusian cuisine, so almost all of our dishes are based on this extraordinary product»
For almost ten years, Julio Fernández Quintero has been in charge of RestauranteAbantal in Seville, which, as he himself says, is based on the traditional Andalusian cuisine, displaying both care towards a quality local product, and a firm commitment to innovation. All of which has led to success for this Chef as reflected by a Michelin star, which he has retained for six years, several Repsol suns and other honours, such as the Chef Millesime Prize, which he was awarded this year. Among his prime ingredients is, of course, olive oil, the supreme representative of Andalusian cuisine. In this interview, he discusses his career, his cuisine, and his values.
How would you describe Abantal, your restaurant?
Abantal is a space in which we want our guests to relax, enjoy themselves and where they can access products and creations, which would otherwise be very difficult to find.
What do you most prize about it and the type of cuisine it produces?
I think it is an honest and direct cuisine, which respects quality products. That was Abantal’s raison d’être since its inception, and we are still proud of that approach.
A Michelin star, several Repsol suns, best Andalusian Chef in 2005, the Chef Millesime award… How did you get here and garner all this recognition?
Since we began this project, hopefully in December it will have been running for 10 years, I had my focus was on producing aflawless cuisine and restaurant style. Over the years, I have had the good fortune to work and learn with some excellent professionals and this, together with some luck and serious and constant work, has brought us to where we are today, for which I am very proud, grateful, and happy.
What product could your cuisine not do without?
There are many, extra virgin olive oil for example is something that I do not think our cuisine or even Mediterranean cuisine in general could do without.
Fish, seasonal produce earthy aromas… How important is the Mediterranean diet for Abantal?
Our cuisine is based on local produce, sourced locally, both sweet and savoury, so I think that the importance of the Mediterranean diet for Abantal is fundamental.
«Extra virgin olive oil for example is something that I do not think our cuisine or even Mediterranean cuisine in general could do without»
Your creations blend tradition and innovation, which of the two has more weight when you are preparing a meal?
Tradition is the departure point from which we move on to innovation, since without the former we would be unable to comprehend the latter.
Your restaurant offers an olive oil list; tell us about it,what does olive oil mean for your cuisine?
Olive oil is, perhaps, one of the cornerstones of Andalusian cuisine, so almost all of our dishes are based on this extraordinary product. We have an olive oil list with various extra virgin olive oils, both mono-varietal and as coupages.
«Abantal is a space in which we want our guests to relax, enjoy themselves and where they can access products and creations, which would otherwise be very difficult to find»
From our website we also promote sports and fitness, which, together with a healthy diet, are the basis of a lifestyle that is beneficial for everyone. You are a sportsman yourself, and you have practiced highlevelsport… How does the approach of a professional athlete help you when it comes to cooking?
Sport has taught me to be constant, given me a desire to excel and a series of habits,which I think every professional, whatever their field of practice, should have.
After such a brilliant career, professionally, do you still have any dreams left to fulfil?
Many, in fact, running a restaurant is a daily challenge. My biggest dream is that each one of the people who visit us leaves us with a smile and feeling happier than when they came through the door. That is my wish.