At the age of 24, Fernando Alcalá left his job in a law firm in Zurich to set up Kava, his own small restaurant in Marbella. This young lawyer with a master’s in International Law serves a market-based traveller cuisine that has earned him the Revelation Chef 2019 award.

This year, Madrid Fusión, was one of the most closely contested finals in the last 16 years. For the first time, there were seven candidates instead of the usual six due to the “enormous amount of young talented chefs under the age of 30” that the president of the jury and the gastronomic summit, José Carlos Capel, encountered.

Alcalá opened Kava in 2004, where he works as “telephone operator, chef, messenger boy, etc.”, as he told EFE, and it only has one kitchen assistant and three people working in the front of house to serve 40 people. He sees his restaurant as “very cheap”, with dishes starting “from €25 up to whatever you want to spend, depending on the wine”, which diners can choose from an extensive wine reference menu.

He defines his style as “signature cuisine”, a term he feels is losing out to other adjectives like” canalla or multicultural”. Dishes change daily in Kava, as it all depends on what Alcalá finds in the market.

“We try to have a lot of personality, the dishes I make are what I feel like eating,” says Alcalá, who at the end of the season in Kava spent four months training in the “tri-starred” Arzak in San Sebastián and learning “respect for the product” from Elena Arkaz.

“It all begins with buying the products, which I take care of every day, from there my brain starts to work like a small library of flavours, and I mix ingredients that I know will work,” says the self-taught chef, who is still getting used to the idea of being this year’s Revelation Chef.

“This is an incentive for me and all the Kava team to keep working with the same philosophy and continue believing in our concept as a restaurant,” says the Marbella chef.

Although his menu changes regularly, two favourite dishes are always on offer – the Hong Kong stir-fry cabbage and cheesecake. Alcalá’s favourite ingredients are pork – he uses his own animals – and vegetables.