Chef Series #5 Daniel Negreira

Happy days ( pic by Lucas Gurdjian)

All About Chef Daniel Negreira

With over 21 years of experience as a professional chef working within high-end restaurants and fine dining establishments, Daniel Negreira knows a thing or two about the food service industry and, in particular, about the role of chef in those establishments. Born in Spain, Daniel began working as a chef back in 1994 and has significant experience with global cuisines.

Daniel’s Early Days

Daniel began cooking in Spain, where he underwent his initial training with chefs like Berasategui and Arzak. However, while he appreciates the insight, knowledge and training provided by those masters, he says the best teacher in his life has been “difficulty”. The problems and troubles he encountered along the road taught him a great deal not only about cooking, but about himself and how far he was willing to go to pursue his goals.

Daniel experienced success early on, earning accolades such as the Best Young Chef of the Basque Country in 2006, and taking the silver medal in the Bocusse D’or competition in 2007. Not content with simply following in the footsteps of the greats in Spanish dining, Daniel completed his education and moved to Taipei. There, he opened, El Toro. It was a small restaurant, but it packed quite a big punch. In 2009, it was named in the top 500 restaurants in Asia in the Miele Guide.

Bocuse D'or Spain 2007

Bocuse D’or Spain 2007

Never content to rest on his laurels, Daniel opened a second restaurant named DN Innovacion. Like El Toro, DN Innovacion earned quite a few accolades in a short time, including being named the best foreign restaurant in the nation in 2013 by the Miele Guide. It was also listed in the top 100 restaurants in Asia by Miele Guide in 2013. In 2014, the restaurant earned the “best award of excellence” from Wine Spectator. The Daily Meal awarded it the best wine list in China, and it ranked as the 42nd best restaurant in Asia in 2014 as well.

DN Innovación- Taipei 2010 to 2014

DN Innovación- Taipei 2010 to 2014

Daniel Negreira’s Style

Daniel has spent a significant amount of time in both Spain and Asia, and both of those regions come through very clearly in his dishes. He strives to base his creations on Basque cuisine, with heavy Asian influences. While this might seem like an unlikely pairing, the results speak for themselves. A great deal of this is due to the focus of both cultures on the freshness and seasonality of the ingredients used.

Both Basque and Asian cuisine are also heavily reliant on seafood. In fact, Basques eat four times more seafood than the French, with sole, cod and Spanish hake being three of the most popular fish. Asian cuisine also draws heavily on food from the sea, featuring everything from clams and oysters to shrimp, squid and octopus.

As such, the fusion of Basque and Asian cooking traditions is amazingly natural, with each complementing the other, while creating something uniquely different from either. This is what Daniel Negreira brings to the table.

Plating ( pic by Miguel Ángel Vargas)

Plating ( pic by Miguel Ángel Vargas)

More Than Just a “Chef”

Considering his wide ranging, fruitful career, it would be a simple matter to consider Daniel a successful chef. However, he is more than that. He is also an author, with multiple books written and published beginning in 2009. Some of Daniel’s books include A Walk through Spain, 101 Best Chefs in Taiwan, 50 Kinds of Taste, Discovering the Modern Chef, The Art of Plating and The Sweet Art of Plating, as well as 4 x 4.

In addition to being a chef and author, you can also include Daniel in the ranks of successful restauranteurs, business owners and business managers. He founded the DN Group and currently serves as the CEO of that organization. He also manages Shanghai Marina by DN, and Alma by DN. He works on a number of other projects, particularly in an advisory role, throughout both Russia and Asia.


Behind the Successful Global Chef Façade

Daniel Negreira has indisputably experienced success on a global scale. However, it hasn’t changed him much from the young chef learning the ropes in Basque cuisine. It is still the simple things that he appreciates most. For instance, the event he would most like to cook for is his daughter’s wedding. He is also endlessly curious, and loves to discover new restaurants in which to dine, new ingredients to test, and new ways to utilize old ingredients.

He also has a different view of what it takes to run a successful restaurant. While some chefs might say that it’s an ever-changing menu that helps a restaurant stay afloat and alive, or that it is the leadership itself that does this, Daniel believes that the only two secrets to running a successful restaurant are having a solid team in place, and ensuring there is a “clear and steady food philosophy”. Given the immense success he’s had with his own restaurants, those would be words worth heeding for any aspiring chef or restaurateur.

In addition to a love of simple things and family, Daniel also takes a very different stance to dish creation in the kitchen. Where some chefs insist on being the star of their own show, he prefers a more collaborative approach. In fact, he says that the team always takes the starring role when designing a new dish or menu, and they collaborate together to decide what dishes will appear on any given menu.

The Future for Daniel Negreira

In many respects, Daniel’s future looks a lot like his past. He plans to continue his efforts at creating successful restaurants that serve up more than just flash in the pan delights. In 2017, he will be opening DN in Taipei. The name is simple, but the meaning

behind it is great. He will also continue to serve as an advisor for the DN Group, as well as managing numerous other projects.

Visit Daniel’s Foodstarz Profile

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