5 minutes with…Chef Juan Flores — Magazine — The Galleria Al Maryah Island, Abu Dhabi
5 minutes with…Chef Juan Flores
5 minutes with…Chef  Juan Flores
Dining | May 1, 2017

5 minutes with…Chef Juan Flores

Executive Chef Juan Flores is the driving force behind the mouth-watering cuisine at Loca, located in The Galleria, and has a clear message for anyone who thinks Mexican food is all fajitas and tacos

What is the most important element of Mexican cuisine?

Fresh produce and flavourful ingredients are key to any authentic Mexican recipe. A popular traditional dish, such as ceviche, is based on the quality of the raw ingredients used, to create a dish that is second to none.

How do you do things differently when it comes to Mexican food? 

At Loca, we try to take the authentic Mexican food of my homeland and give it a fresh and contemporary spin to appeal to all palates. Take our guacamole, which is one of the most-loved dishes on our menu, as an example. We offer a classic version made fresh at the table, but have also added many variations over the years – from our frutas with strawberries and blackberries to cangrejo with fresh crab meat. 

What’s the most popular dish and what’s your spin on it?

Tamales. It’s a very traditional dish from my town in Mexico and we use a secret recipe of corn masa that differs from region to region.

If you had to give a first-timer to Mexican food some advice to get the best from it, what would it be?

Experiment. Mexican cooking has so many different tastes and flavours, so order dishes you don’t know and give them a try. Being with lots of friends helps, as you can order multiple dishes and share — which is how it would be at home for a traditional Mexican family meal. 

Five ‘must-have’ items in your weekly shopping basket…
Habanero chillies, avocados, a good grade of meat, cheese and fresh peppers.

Who is your kitchen hero? 

My mother. She was always in the kitchen and my love of food came from her.  

Executive chef Juan Flores

Five-star or street food?

Although we are based in a luxury shopping centre, our food spans all realms. We’re all about creating our own Loca atmosphere and that doesn’t matter where the food is served. 

What would you say to people who are narrow-minded about Mexican food? 

Come to Loca. Today. You only have to glance at our menu to see that Mexican cuisine is rich in choice and flavour. We offer everything from fresh octopus ceviche and spiced-chicken broth with avocado to baked homemade corn masa tamales and our ‘Pollo en Mole’.