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Tapas chef Omar Allibhoy loves using Kent's local produce in his dishes

PUBLISHED: 06:00 23 August 2013 | UPDATED: 09:06 23 August 2013

Omar Allibhoy owns tapas restaurants at Bluewater and Westfield

Omar Allibhoy owns tapas restaurants at Bluewater and Westfield

Archant

Dubbed the 'Antonio Banderas of cooking' by Gordon Ramsay, Omar Allibhoy might just be the hottest chef around at the moment- cooking wise, of course.

Artichokes and asparagus, 'Granada' style, as featured in Tapas RevolutionArtichokes and asparagus, 'Granada' style, as featured in Tapas Revolution

Determined to make Spanish food as popular in the UK as Italian, Allibhoy, who has a restaurant in Bluewater, says his passion for food started at an early age.

Daring to take on dishes grown adults shy away from, he recalls making complex food when he was no higher than his mother’s apron strings.

“When I was five I started cooking with my mother,” he recalls. “It’s amazing to think that at such a young age I was able to make flans, crème caramel and omelettes, I was always whisking something in a bowl.”

So it is unsurprising that it wasn’t long before Omar started working in top professional restaurants, perfecting his craft before opening his own stores.

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Born just outside of Madrid, the young chef is the owner of the two critically acclaimed Tapas Revolution restaurants - the other is in Westfield in Stratford - and lives by the mantra of ‘Tapas not pasta’.

His style has garnered high praise from his peers, with Chrissy Iley commenting: “He is a beautiful and rare creature, a cooking prodigy”.

He believes that anyone can cook Spanish food, and wants the UK to start choosing chorizo and tortilla over spaghetti and lasagne.

His quest to bring Spanish cooking here even led him to tour the country on his motorbike, cooking his food for the people he met, causing a sensation in his homeland where they affectionately labelled him ‘the Spanish Jamie Oliver’.

After noticing there was a lack of tapas restaurants outside of London, Omar saw an opportunity to open a restaurant in Bluewater and says the county has great ingredients which he uses in his dishes.

He said: “I am pleased that we opened there, Kent has great local produce which we use when cooking.

“We have a lot of customers but we are keen for everyone to give us a try. People tend to go to the same places, but I am convinced once they try us that they will love it.”

Omar insists his recipes can be created using ingredients that are available in any major supermarkets, or can be found at home in your cupboard, so he hopes that people start experimenting soon.

The Tapas Revolution restaurants are currently shortlisted for the ‘London Lifestyle Awards’ Best Restaurant, and he is also winner of this year’s Caterer and Hotelkeeper’s Acorn Award for Rising Star.

Continuing his mission, Omar plans to open another restaurant in Birmingham next year.

Tapas Revolution, published by Ebury Press is available now for £20. Visit www.tapasrevolution.com.

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