Chefs Under 35: Chef Carlos Montobbio from Esquina

Head chef Carlos Montobbio in action

Carlos Montobbio became head chef at Esquina at 28 and has since become known for weaving different textures and flavours together in his dishes.

Singapore's Top Restaurants 2017/2018 House of Stars - One Star logoCarlos Montobbio, 30
Esquina

 

In this series, we meet chefs under 35 whose restaurants were awarded stars in Singapore’s Top Restaurants 2017/2018.

Head chef Carlos Montobbio in action
Head chef Carlos Montobbio in action

After 10 years working at different restaurants in his native Spain, Carlos Montobbio arrived in Singapore at 26 years old as chef de cuisine of Fairmont Singapore’s Anti:dote Bar. It wasn’t long before he was noticed by those further afield, and was made head chef at Spanish tapas restaurant Esquina in 2015. With the freedom to be even more creative in this new role, chef Montobbio brought Esquina’s already-popular modern tapas menus to a new level. “Modern tapas is going further into mostly bite-sized presentations. A dinner becomes a combination of 10 to 14 bites with very diverse textures and flavours, and not necessarily using purely Spanish ingredients,” he says.

Potato and truffle gratin with burnt onion sauce, organic egg yolk and Iberico ham
Potato and truffle gratin with burnt onion sauce, organic egg yolk and Iberico ham

An example of the different textures and flavours he weaves into each morsel is his new potato and truffle gratin. He wanted to create something that reminded him of the flavours of huevos estrellados, a typical Spanish dish made of fried potatoes, egg and ham. “I took out each ingredient from the dish and gave it another texture. I turned the fried potato into a pan-seared potato gratin and the sunny side egg into the egg yolk sauce and the fried onion into a burnt onion sauce at the bottom. We finished it with some shavings of winter black truffle and some fried Ibérico ham.” He is now working on espardenyes, a Catalan dish that makes use of the intestines of the sea cucumber; it tastes like squid but with a more delicate texture.

This was first published in Wine & Dine’s September 2017 issue – Singapore’s Top Restaurants, ‘Early Risers’