Chefs are in charge of operations at the restaurant, from planning a menu, to preparing the food, and serving high-quality dishes to all that dine.
After completing a summer job at university, Chef Miguel Huelamo Estrada, Executive Chef at JW Marriott Marquis Hotel, Business Bay, was looking for a way to turn his passion into a profession, which led him towards becoming a chef.
Chef Miguel Huelamo Estrada has accumulated fourteen years of experience in the culinary industry, working around the world including Taiwan, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Kuala Lumpur and London, before making his way to Dubai.
In his role as the Executive Chef at JW Marriott Marquis Hotel, Chef Miguel Huelamo Estrada oversees 15 restaurants, lounges and bars, leading a team of 300 chefs.
Chef Miguel Huelamo Estrada shared with Connector his journey in the culinary world, from finding his passion for cooking, to dishes he recommends at the hotel.
How did you get started in the food industry?
After an unfulfilling summer job, while studying at university, it became very clear to me that I needed to pursue a career that I actually enjoyed and felt passionate about. Growing up, I always enjoyed cooking because, like most families, my family spent a lot of time together in the kitchen, talking about food and visiting relatives to prepare meals and eat together.
For me, happiness and food are closely linked. I remember when I was around eight or nine years old and I was shocked when I found out that one of my favourite local eateries had suddenly closed. I frequently visited this restaurant with my parents and family friends as a kid because they served one of my favourite dishes, and no other place made it as well as they did there. That is when I realised that if I wanted to enjoy those exact flavours, I would have to recreate it myself.
I became fascinated with the art of cooking, and I see it as a combination of emotions, cherished memories, honed techniques, and a bit of magic. As a chef, the kitchen demands relentless effort and dedication each day, but tasting the fruits of your labour and seeing guests enjoying your creations makes it worth it.
What is your earliest cooking memory?
When I was around five or six years old, I received my first cooking book as a present. After reading that book, I can still clearly remember how obsessed I became with making the perfect omelette, a smooth skin, slightly runny interior, rolled in with the stuffing inside. I think I made my entire family eat omelette every day for weeks, until I perfected it.
What is your favourite dish from your country?
As I was born and raised in Spain, it is no surprise that my favourite Spanish dish is Tortilla de Patata, also known as a Spanish omelette. When cooked the right way with high-quality ingredients, this is without a doubt my favourite dish and it reminds me of home. I could eat this for breakfast, lunch and dinner, either warm, straight out of the pan or leftover cold from the fridge.
What is the one go-to and easy snack you love making for midnight cravings?
I lived and worked in Asia for quite a few years including Taiwan, China, Malaysia and Hong Kong, and my favourite comfort food is Asian. My favourite quick fix for a midnight craving is a bowl of sesame noodles, which can be prepared in under five minutes. I usually cook a classic one but add a good drizzle of crispy chilli oil and Sichuan pepper oil, which gives it a nice kick. My other go-to snack is Korean instant noodles, available at almost any grocery store in Dubai. I like to spruce mine up by adding an egg, a couple of slices of cheddar cheese, chopped spring onions and a side of ripe kimchi.
What is the one raw ingredient you cannot cook without from your country?
Spanish saffron from Spain’s La Mancha region. My father's family comes from there and many of the dishes my grandmother used to cook for us had saffron. For me, it is the best in the world. Besides that, I would say that extra virgin olive oil is probably the most indispensable ingredient for cooking, not only in Spanish food but in a variety of cuisines. It can not only be used for cooking but can be used to finish cooked dishes and dress up raw ingredients.
What is the best dish to try at your restaurant?
As I oversee JW Marriott Marquis Dubai’s whole portfolio of restaurants, it is difficult to choose just one because each outlet has its own unique offering with an array of amazing dishes. You cannot go wrong with any of the steaks at the award-winning Prime68, and the whole menu at the restaurant is top-notch. The carbonara in Positano is one of my favourite comfort dishes, and I cannot go a day without having the seared salmon nigiri from Izakaya. I also often crave the dal makhani from Rang Mahal, and the flavourful larb gai from Tong Thai.
Chef Miguel Huelamo Estrada
JW Marriott Marquis Hotel