Arts & Entertainment

De Niro in Madrid enjoys dishes by 5 top chefs

Madrid, Mar 1 (EFE).- Robert de Niro and his love interest Tiffany Chen “enjoyed” each dish on the “priceless menu” designed in Madrid for them by five of the world’s best chefs: Argentina’s Mauro Colagreco and Spaniards Joan Roca, Quique Dacosta, Jose Andres and Martin Berasategui.

“It was a joy to see him eat,” the chefs said. “You wouldn’t believe how he wiped clean each plate with bread. He asked us for more, something that surprised us because it was rather complete menu,” said an excited Berastegui, who added that the actor at all times has shown a “spectacular interest” in Spanish gastronomy.

“He told me … each time I took him the dishes ‘What more can I ask of life?'” the chef joked.

“He got up from the table, came to the little kitchen to see how we prepared the dishes. He asked us how they were made and what each product was, he filmed everything on video. In all my life, I haven’t seen anyone enjoy it like he did. It’s been spectacular to be able to have cooked for him and his partner,” Dacosta said.

To understand why the 78-year-old De Niro was provided with this multi-part meal, we must go back last year to the Madrid Fusion fair when, on the social networks, a challenge was posed to the Hollywood star: promote the 2022 gastronomic conference event in exchange for a “priceless” meal put together exclusively for him by the world’s best chefs.

The actor accepted and since then he has been trying to adjust his agenda to attend the event.

The special brunch menu was made up of 16 dishes – six appetizers, eight main courses and two desserts – starting with Iberian ham, cheese and bread, along with cured meats and rounded off with dried tomatoes.

As the main dishes, the actor enjoyed white asparagus and truffles along with prawns marinated in rice vinegar (Roca), caramelized smoked eel millefeuille, foie gras, chives and green apple, cod tacos with “kokotxas,” an emulsion of coffee and pepper flakes (Berastegui); beets with Ossietra caviar sauce (Colagreco); strawberries with cream and sea urchins and smoked eel with teardrop peas (Andres) and Senia rice with truffles and Denia red prawns boiled in sea water (Dacosta).

For dessert and the finishing touch, “dulce de leche,” sheep’s milk ice cream, yogurt and more.

The magnificent repast was accompanied by the very best wines. “We wanted to provide him with a good image of this country and the wines were the very best,” said Jose Carlos Capel, the director of Madrid Fusion.

“We all thought that we wouldn’t accomplish it. The menu was already a challenge, because (the dishes) were tough, but each and every of the plates went back to the kitchen empty and wiped clean, and he even told us to save what was left over for him, that he wanted to eat it later,” Roca said, laughing.

“He even ate the eels, something that scared us a bit because Americans usually never think about them. He really liked the preparation that Carles (Tejedor) made,” Capel said.

Tejedor replaced Jose Andres in the kitchen because the well-known chef is presently on the border of Ukraine and Poland with his World Central Kitchen NGO to provide meals to war refugees.

If there was something that all the cooks wanted to emphasize about the actor it was how nice he was, his friendly and kind nature and his generosity. “We laughed a lot,” said Dacosta.

The exclusive meal was provided for De Niro and Chen at the Mandarin Oriental Ritz, specifically in the royal suite of the historic Madrid hotel, which was opened in 1910 and reopened its doors a year ago after its biggest renovation in 110 years.

“Seeing these five great chefs preparing all the dishes in such a small kitchen … everyone squeezed in there and with such mastery was impressive,” Capel said.

The Madrid Fusion gastronomic congress will be held on March 28-30, but De Niro had to decline the invitation to the actual event due to agenda problems, although he said that he will try to make space in his busy schedule to attend future editions.

“Come in disguise if you don’t want them to recognize you, but you’re going to love it,” the event director joked with the actor.

EFE sgh/agf/jls/bp

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