Omar Allibhoy - A Minute on the Clock
Omar Allibhoy, head chef at London restaurant El Pirata Detapas, has just opened Tapas Revolution at Westfield, the first in a series of Madrid-style all-day tapas bars planned for the UK. He caught up with Janie Stamford to explain why.
Do you think there has been a gap in the market for authentic tapas?
There are lots of tapas bars, particularly in London, but very few are as good as back home. None has been able to recreate the cafeteria-tapas-bar concept found on most streets of Madrid, where you can get everything you need at any time of the day, whether it's churros con chocolate for breakfast or some tapas with a good glass of wine for dinner.
Are British palates ready for it?
After my 1,400km road trip taking real Spanish flavours to the people of England, I can say yes. Tapas ticks all the boxes as a cuisine: fresh, seasonal, tasty, healthy and affordable. Brits love tapas, but they want the ones we Spaniards eat.
What drives your passion for tapas?
Since I was a kid I have been surrounded by the Spanish flavours and the tapas way of dining, which goes well beyond just eating: it brings people together; it facilitates socialising and is the best plan when meeting someone.
Are there any more Tapas Revolution restaurants in the pipeline?
Yes, but we are looking for great iconic sites in good locations only, so our speed will be determined by the quality of the sites. But we have already received lots of interest, which is a good sign for us.
What do you think will be your biggest challenge?
To make people feel as if they were in Madrid for the day. We have a great team of people behind the bar: I told them from the beginning, you are the "alma" (soul) of the concept, the most important part; be proud of being Spanish, and make the customers feel Spanish.
Will you remain head chef at El Pirata Detapas?
Yes, of course. Thankfully at El Pirata Detapas we have the strongest family of chefs I have ever worked with. They are taking good care while I am away from the kitchen and pushing for excellence.