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[Chef Talk]

No surprise: Jaleo chef loves paella and Iberico ham

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Chef Rodolfo Guzman started as a dishwasher at Jaleo in Washington, D.C.
Photo: Christopher DeVargas

Jaleo executive chef Rodolfo Guzman began his long association with José Andrés as a dishwasher at the Washington, D.C. Jaleo. For the last 18 years, Guzman has emulated his mentor while rising through the ranks to his current role at the helm of Andrés’ Cosmopolitan outpost. When not doling out outstanding Spanish-influenced small plates (the coca con erizos de mar, in particular, is unreal) he’s got some good stories to tell.

Favorite dish on the menu: paella “I love the paellas. Every day I have to try it, and I never get tired of it. I always have to test it. The secret is our wood fire, of course. My favorite is the Paella Valenciana with the chicken and rabbit. When do you ever get rabbit paella?”

Favorite drink on the menu: José’s gin and tonic “It used to be my favorite drink was a Cuba Libre, but when I was traveling with José in Spain he made these for his friends at a party. He’s got 20 glasses filled with ice—he’s a machine when he’s working the room like that—and here he is making these cocktails with juniper berries. It’s absolutely amazing!”

Ingredient he’s currently obsessed with: jamón Ibérico “Right now we have Ibérico ribs on the menu, but I want to include Ibérico bacon, also. In traveling with José, I’ve had the opportunity to watch him break down a whole Ibérico pig and dine on all the different cuts of meat. My favorite Ibérico cut is the cheek, definitely the cheeks.”

Tags: Dining
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