As Michelin starred La Sucursal restaurant gets ready to reopen at its brand new seaside location on the top floor of the stunning Veles e Vents building, chef Jorge de Andrés opens his heart about the family business, what makes him tick and his favourite places in Valencia.
They say behind every great man there is a great woman, and behind the success of Jorge de Andres and La Sucursal is the story of Loles Salvador, a true legend in Valencia’s gastronomic circles.
Loles is the matriarch who instilled her love and passion for cooking in her children: Jorge, Javier, Cristina and Miriam. She was a pioneering entrepreneur, who set up her first bar in the 1970s and started to apply what she had learned in cookery school and from helping her husband at his Central Market stall, adding a Valencian touch to classic dishes. Now approaching 80, this remarkable woman is still at the helm of the family business that is now Grupo La Sucursal. And she still cooks… some of her marmalades, for example, can be found at the group’s restaurants.
Grupo La Sucursal has gone from strength to strength. Jorge made a success of Vertical, one of the best restaurants in Valencia with fantastic views over the City of Arts and Sciences, whilst sister Miriam runs Coloniales Huerta. In 2016, the group took over the unused Veles e Vents building at the Marina of Valencia, together with Heineken, to turn it into Valencia’s new gastro-hub. A rice and seafood restaurant, La Maritima, and the Malabar brewpub and bistro opened last year. And now La Sucursal, previously at the IVAM museum, is ready to welcome foodies once again here.
As the family business reaches another milestone, we catch up with Jorge de Andres:
How did you start in the kitchen?
I started helping at the family bar when I was a teenager. For me, it was just fun, playing to be a waiter or a kitchen assistant. I enjoyed cooking with my mother. Later, I would think of the dishes she used to cook and try to recreate them with a new twist, but retaining their essence. And I’d always let her taste them first and give me her opinion.
What makes Valencia’s gastronomy special?
It is the mixture of cultures and different styles of cooking through the city’s history – the Arabs, the Mozarabs, the Sephardies… – that have shaped our cuisine. We must keep the essence of the past and bring it to modern times, always using the local produce.
What do you like doing in your spare time?
I don’t get much spare time, but when I can, I like riding my motorbike and heading out of the city. I love El Saler, being surrounded by pine trees and the sea. It’s a great place to enjoy the beach, and maybe a plate of squid or a paella and a glass of wine under the shade of the pine trees.
What is your favourite place in the city?
The Turia Gardens is something I feel extremely proud of. It is a real luxury for Valencians to have this green space, where we can go for a walk or a run. I like just sitting in a bench and listening to music.
What about your favourite Valencian food?
One of my favourite dishes is arroz al horno, something very traditional and delicious. I also enjoy salads and dishes with local dry salted fish, such as titaina or esgarraet, great for the summer months.
One thing you cannot live without?
Good olive oil. I just couldn’t cook anything without that.
Have you got a top cooking tip?
Make sure that you always keep your knives in the kitchen perfectly sharp.
And one for the perfect paella?
Paella is not just a dish, but a ritual, which changes depending on who is there. That’s why you should never start cooking until your guests have all arrived.