Juanlu Fernández, France through the eyes of an Andalusian

In Jerez the chef, for 10 years Ángel León’s right arm, presents an original (and excellent) Iberian-French mix

21-08-2019
Juan Luis Fernández, aka Juanlu, presents an int

Juan Luis Fernández, aka Juanlu, presents an interesting Spanish-French cuisine at Lú Cocina y Alma in Jerez de la Frontera, not far from Cadiz

Spanish cuisine still surprises ("still" meaning even now that the avantgarde has lost its propulsive force) because it can tell a thousand different stories, that share the same technical wisdom, but different from one another in terms of the paths taken. In other words, they are all the result of the creative freedom that was the fundamental lesson sent by elBulli to the world; and they are all aware of the other essential element in that crucial project: dining is a culinary experience, it’s not just about eating good food. So, only in Andalusia, where we travelled recently, we have the Arab-Andalusian cuisine of Paco Morales (see Paco Morales: rediscovering the Arab-Andalusian cuisine of the 14th century); the tri-starred, full, round, but "resigning"  cuisine of Dani Garcia (see Goodbye three stars, I want to be happy. And here’s the future of fine dining); the other diamond, that is to say the marine epopee of Ángel León, of whom we will soon write; and then other interpretations, including one that surprised us, both in terms of style and quality: the one of Juan Luis Fernández, aka Juanlu, at Lú Cocina y Alma in Jerez de la Frontera, not far from Cadiz, also in Andalusia.

The beautiful dining rooms 

The beautiful dining rooms 

On the chef’s Instagram profile there’s written: "Francia y Andalucía unidas en Lú Cocina y Alma & Maison Lú". An explanation is mandatory. Firstly: Maison Lú is the second restaurant of the chef, born in 1984 in the very Jerez. It’s in Marbella, and he opened it a few weeks ago, so this is why when we visited the restaurant in Jerez, Juanlu was not there, too busy looking after the new start up. «I’m sorry I was not with you. Especially as Italy is my second home, I love your culture and gastronomy», Fernández wrote to us. A kind and appreciated message under which lies a truth: speaking of cuisine, the "Juanlu surprise" is that the chef presents in the most traditional Spain, close to the image – and the stereotypes – that people have of that extraordinary country, food that is admittedly inspired by France, but interpreted and influenced by the Iberian products used to make it. So, a "French-Andalusian cuisine, of large horizons. Patient, traditional and guarded, but in order to think of a new avantgarde", in his words.

Juanlu with his staff

Juanlu with his staff

Here’s a quote from the introduction to the menu:

At Lú Cocina y Alma we’re passionate about seeking, every day, the best products, investigating their origins and understanding every aspect of them.
We look for the best milk in France to make our butter; the birds landing on the beautiful land of Bresse; Breton oysters or seafood resting in the rias of Galicia.
We look for wild vegetables form the sierra of Cadiz, from La Janda to Grazalema, and for the fresh fish from the sea of Cadiz, from Rota to Tarifa.
At Lú we’re in love with classic fine dining; we add an Andalusian touch to the recipes of Careme and Escoffier’s sauces are enclosed in our aromatised butter.
At Lú we cook slowly, there’s no haste, and with great passion.
We offer three tasting menus, to taste the best products available.

The kitchen is in the middle of the dining room 

The kitchen is in the middle of the dining room 

The menus are called Universo Lú (90 euros), Vive la France (120 euros) and Le Grand Voyage (150 euros). We can notice two things immediately: the great technical mastery and the elegant style; France, in other words, is seen through Andalusian spectacles and finds a different identity, similar to the original, yet different, always elegant and full of harmony.

After all, Junlu is a talented chef who had excellent teachers. He started as a pastry chef: in fact, he started in the family bakery, in Jerez. Then he spent five years with Martin Berasategui (three of which in the headquarters in Lasarte, and two in Tenerife), before his career came across the career of León in the new-born Aponiente in Puerto de Santa María. The two formed an stainless partnership; for ten years Juanlu was the right arm and operational emanation of Ángel. In December 2017 he decided to start his own business and open , one Michelin star only 10 months after its opening.

The chef at work with his sous

The chef at work with his sous

Well deserved, indeed. The ambition of Fernández is based on a very interesting concept: «The greatness of a country in the restaurant industry is not so much in its top restaurants, that is to say in those few places at the very top, but in the slightly larger group of restaurants that follow them closely». This is where Lú Cocina y Alma is placed now.

Here’s our dinner, in the photos of Tanio Liotta. And in the meantime, we also recommend the extraordinary maison bread (from mother yeast) and the excellent service and wine pairing, orchestrated by caring and competent Mamen Castelló.

Translated into English by Slawka G. Scarso

Coquillage. From the top, clockwise: Sea truffles and mousse of jalapeño; Clam from the Pacific Ocean with grenobloise sauce (butter, lemon and capers); Cockle in mignonette sauce (chopped shallot, macerated in wine and red vinegar)

Coquillage. From the top, clockwise: Sea truffles and mousse of jalapeñoClam from the Pacific Ocean with grenobloise sauce (butter, lemon and capers); Cockle in mignonette sauce (chopped shallot, macerated in wine and red vinegar)

Charcuterie. From the top, clockwise: Crunchy maison pâté, Aged Limoges beef, Brioche malengere 

Charcuterie. From the top, clockwise: Crunchy maison pâté, Aged Limoges beef, Brioche malengere 

Bun of steamed tuna: delicious, lots of attention to the aromatic contrasts. Hot, sour, sweet 

Bun of steamed tuna: delicious, lots of attention to the aromatic contrasts. Hot, sour, sweet 

Our version of asparagus and mayonnaise. The mayonnaise is made with oyster, another dish showing very clean flavours 

Our version of asparagus and mayonnaise. The mayonnaise is made with oyster, another dish showing very clean flavours 

Monkfish Royale, sea urchins and mayonnaise 

Monkfish Royale, sea urchins and mayonnaise 

Monkfish in smoked gazpachuelo (Gazpachuelo is a soup originally from Malaga, Spain, and it’s the typical fishermen’s dish, made with fish stock, and mayonnaise with garlic, egg yolk and olive oil)

Monkfish in smoked gazpachuelo (Gazpachuelo is a soup originally from Malaga, Spain, and it’s the typical fishermen’s dish, made with fish stock, and mayonnaise with garlic, egg yolk and olive oil)

Iberian pig, emulsion of green onion and truffle 

Iberian pig, emulsion of green onion and truffle 

Mackerel in Bearnaise sauce 

Mackerel in Bearnaise sauce 

Potage Saint-Germain, French classic with dried pulses

Potage Saint-Germain, French classic with dried pulses

Boeuf Bourguignonne, extraordinary dish

Boeuf Bourguignonne, extraordinary dish

Pigeon in Breton sauce (onions/leeks, sugar, salt, mushrooms, mustard, butter). Even too rich 

Pigeon in Breton sauce (onions/leeks, sugar, salt, mushrooms, mustard, butter). Even too rich 

Rabbit royale with grand veneur sauce (red wine, onions, shallot, thyme, bay leaves, flour, vinegar, veal stock, red currant gelatine, butter, olive oil, salt and pepper)

Rabbit royale with grand veneur sauce (red wine, onions, shallot, thyme, bay leaves, flour, vinegar, veal stock, red currant gelatine, butter, olive oil, salt and pepper)

Strawberries and cream

Strawberries and cream

Almond tart soaked in brandy

Almond tart soaked in brandy

Hazelnut texture, milk ice cream 

Hazelnut texture, milk ice cream 

The beautiful dining rooms 

The beautiful dining rooms 

Lú Cocina y Alma
Calle Zaragoza 2, Jerez de la Frontera, Spain
Tel. +34 695 408481
universolu.com/restaurantes/lu-cocina-y-alma
Closed on Sunday at lunchtime and the whole day on Monday 
tasting menu 90, 120 and 150 euros


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