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Jesús Gómez-Monedero is chef and owner at restaurant Palio. Together with his brother, host and sommelier Isaac, Jesús runs this fine-dining establishment. As a young boy, he already helped out his father in the bakery and fell in love with the culinary arts. After his culinary education under top chef Pepe Rodriguez, Jesús worked in several top restaurants. In 2009 Jesús opened his own establishment, Palio. Here, he conjures up his excellent traditional Castilian-La Mancha cuisine. We asked chef Jesús some questions about his culinary inspiration, his favourite dish to prepare, and much more.
Jesús, how would you describe your cooking style?
Restaurant Palio serves seasonal cuisine consisting of only a few natural ingredients. Because the increase in allergies is a reality, the more you complicate a recipe in terms of the number of ingredients, the more difficult it is for the body to assimilate it. An artichoke and a little dressing and that’s it. Lamb I prepare by stuffing it, or we make it in cochifrito, a traditional dish here consisting of dried meat. These are very basic stews. Later, with the desserts, you can be a little more creative. My cuisine is based on pure products and is always done with very few ingredients. I make a cuisine of the area, Manchego in particular, because I really like great international cuisine and because I have many references in my head.
What's your favourite dish to make?
It’s very difficult to give you a favourite dish, but I love making tartar. Both made of meat or fish. I have found the balance point and it comes out just perfect. It's a very simple dish but you have to combine the essence and find the right balance. I also really like ratatouille, which is a very local dish. And Migas, a dish with leftover bread, because it looks like a grotesque dish but it is made with simple dough, and everyone likes it.
What is your favourite ingredient to work with?
My favourite raw material ingredient to work with, of which I have many varieties and many types, is flour. I use it for many purposes in the kitchen, to thicken sauces, make croquettes, to make fritters, bread, and puff pastry. I also use it for desserts, brownies and sponge cakes. Flour is my world.
My cuisine is based on pure products and is always done with very few ingredients.
Who is one of your top suppliers or producers?
When we talk about suppliers or producers, the first thing that comes to mind is the Duero mill. Obviously, in my restaurant I work with meat, fish, milk, butter and I have my suppliers, but since flour is so important in my kitchen, it is also very important for me to talk with the producer and with the farmer. The Duero mill provides me with this information. He tells me about the type of harvest if it has rained and the enzymatic activity. I can tell you about meat suppliers, I can tell you about fish suppliers, I can tell you about vegetables farmers, but the first thing that comes to mind is the mill.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your culinary career?
My biggest challenge has been to start working on my restaurant in the great Spanish real estate boom and to open the restaurant 2 years later when the crisis began. That is, we have built the restaurant when the materials were very expensive, and we have opened when there was no money to spend by our guests. But we have overcome those moments and we have proven to be able to handle it. As for the kitchen, the most important challenge has been the evolution that I’ve had with bread. Since I started until this very day, my progress has been enormous. When we opened the restaurant, I made buns that were very tasty. But I see the bread that I’m baking now with the control of sourdough, and it's amazing.
Which gastronomic trend are you excited about the most?
I don't follow trends. I go my own way. I see food as a moment you get to enjoy together with the people you have chosen. We try to disturb our guests as little as possible and hope they leave happy. I am not the important one here, and neither is my kitchen. The important one is the guest. I like to serve good tasty food that feels good to the body. I work with the knowledge acquired through study, from more than 1,500 cookbooks. I am mostly interested in the history of gastronomy essays, not necessarily in the recipes.
If you could only eat one dish for the rest of your life, what would that be?
For the rest of my life, I would only eat bread and water, that's it.
What’s one thing in the area that your guests absolutely need to see or do?
Our Ocaña area is one of the relevant destinations in Spain for skydiving and airplane piloting courses. There are also numerous hiking trails, and opportunities to go canoeing in the beautiful natural area of Los Estoraques. Besides this, the area is full of historical monuments, especially religious ones.
Thank you, Jesús.
Book your table at restaurant Palio
Try chef Jesús Gómez-Monedero’s traditional cuisine for yourself at restaurant Palio in Ocaña, Spain. You can make your lunch or dinner reservation through our website, for an unforgettable event.