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5 minutes with Movida Sydney Head Chef Ivalu Otaiza

Published on: 23-Jun-2015
5 minutes with Movida Sydney Head Chef Ivalu Otaiza

Chef Ivalu Otaiza understands the food of Movida instinctively. Born to Chilean parents he wanted to learn more about the roots of Spanish cuisine so he set off for Melbourne and in 2004 approached Frank Camorra Chef and co-owner of Movida. Frank took him on and Ivalu not only finished his apprenticeship with Movida but ended up with an important senior role before he left for overseas.

His culinary adventures took him from London all the way to the Pyrenees; however Ivalu found his way back home and is once more part of the Movida family. Taking on the role of Head Chef at their northern outpost in Surry Hills Ivalu is turning out some truly delicious little dishes such as croquettas filled with duck.

We take five minutes to get to know Ivalu better:

Q. What did you have for dinner last night?

I worked last night, which usually means I don't eat. The night before I went to Rosso Pomodoro, a great little pizza restaurant in Rozelle, they have three rules - no half pizzas, no pineapple, and no cheesy crusts.

Q. Place you eat most often on days off?

It might sound boring, but I eat at home on my days off, I like to look after myself so I try to eat clean healthy food when I can.

Q. Favourite ingredient to work with?

I don't use it that often but I do enjoy cooking with guancale (cured pig's cheek). The fatty pork flavour it adds to dishes is irresistible

Q. Last weekend on earth – what city are you eating in?

I'd like to be eating in Melbourne - I lived there for a few years and always enjoyed its dining scene.

vQ. If you weren't cooking, what would you do for a living?

Probably a dietician - I've always been interested in the role food plays in fuelling our body and I'm a bit of a fitness junkie.

Q. What did you want to be when you were growing up?

It changed so often! I definitely wanted to be a pro basketballer, a bit of a pipe dream given that I'm only 5'5"! But I always loved food and eating, so it really was inevitable that I became a chef.

Q. Most embarrassing cooking moment?

There are so many, but I'll never forget one night cooking in a French kitchen on the grill section - I was still wet behind the ears and it showed. I messed up a whole bunch of orders, and they took me off the grill. I had to apologise to all the wait staff, which is mortifying to a chef! That was the last time I messed up that badly.

Q. Person you would most like to cook for (alive or dead)?

I'd love to cook for Ferran Adria of El Bulli - he's always been a bit of a role model of mine. The man is a genius, and a little bit eccentric! It would make for great conversation.

Q. Citi customers can enjoy a free bottle of McWilliam's wine when they dine at MoVida Sydney - either a Picante Vino Blanco or a nice Temperanillo. What dish from your menu would you recommend to match with either of these wines?

The temperanillo pairs beautifully with our Cigarillo de Queso.

MoVida Sydney
Spanish, $$$
50 Holt Street, Surry Hills, NSW
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