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Chef Talk: Jose Ibarra at Jalea

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Jose Ibarra at Jalea.

Jose Ibarra at Jalea.

Jose Ibarra, the executive chef at Jalea, is quickly becoming famed for his Spanish-Peruvian dishes that are pushing the downtown locale up the Sarasota culinary ladder. The Leche de Tigre (a creamy ceviche served in a wine glass) and the Jalea (breaded seafood with marinated vegetables and fried yucca) are among his signatures. Ibarra’s Mexican upbringing also influences his flavor experimentation and food fusion.

Tell me briefly about your experience as a chef.

I started in Mexico when I was 18, working in different restaurants for about 10 years. I gained more experience when I moved to America. I started working in Sarasota in 2001 with Barnacle Bill’s for five years, and then I moved to Oasis Café for eight years.

Who has been your biggest culinary influence or mentor?

Larry Siegel, Oasis Café’s chef, has been the biggest influence in my culinary life. He took me in as his apprentice and trained me to be the chef I’ve become.

What is the best compliment you’ve received from a guest about your food?

Actually, this is funny: It happened in Jalea, when a Peruvian costumer told me that he had to travel to America to be surprised to find the most delicious Jalea he had ever had, prepared by a Mexican chef!

What was the most challenging or complex meal you ever prepared?

I think Peruvian food is the most challenging to prepare. The complexity of the ingredients made it really hard to learn at first. I’m grateful that I’ve worked with a great Peruvian chef who taught me how combine and use those ingredients properly to prepare the food we now serve in our restaurant.

When you’re not in the kitchen, what are you usually doing?

I like to spend time with my two young kids, ages seven and nine. And my passion besides cooking is soccer; I play twice a week.

LOMO SALTADO

Ingredients:
5 ounces beef tenderloin
2 tablespoons pisco
½ large onion, sliced and julienned
½ large tomato, seeded, sliced and julienned
½ tablespoons garlic paste
½ tablespoons
Peruvian panca pepper paste
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
¼ teaspoon ginger
1 Peruvian yellow pepper, sliced and julienned
Pinch of oregano
Pinch of cumin
Salt and pepper, to taste
Vegetable oil, as needed

Method:
Heat oil in a wok over medium-high heat. Season the meat with cumin, salt and pepper. Sear the meat and add pisco, and when the juices begin to release, remove the meat from the wok. Fry the onion and add extra oil, if needed. Add garlic and panca pepper. Then, add the tomato and meat back to the wok. Add the red wine vinegar, oregano and soy sauce. Sautee until the tomato softens. Serve over French fries with side of white rice.

 

Jalea is at 1532 Main St., Sarasota. 955-8272; jaleasarasota.com.

 

Last modified: February 3, 2014
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