Gabriel Cañón has just scooped the top prize at TaPalma 2020.
He was born in Malaga in 1989 but moved to Palma four years ago in search of a job after he finished studying in Córdoba.
“It was a good move for me because I have worked in Ros de Mar, Can Barbarà, Rosa Chica and I’ve been at Maleva in Calle ca’n Salat, near Plaça de Raimundo Clar for the last six months.”
To win the prestigious TaPalma prize Gabriel put a Mallorcan twist on a traditional dish.
“Shrimp tortilla is a typical tapa in Andalusian cuisine and I thought that by adapting the ingredients and using products from the islands I could make a different version but keep the essence,” he explains.
The dish was created specially for the competition, but Gabriel says it will likely be added to Maleva’s menu now.
It’s the first time Gabriel has entered TaPalma and he says he really wasn’t phased by it at all.
“The truth is I wasn’t nervous then, but I am now,” he laughs. “I think being the first contestant benefited me because my nerves didn’t get the chance to take hold of me.”
Gabriel doesn’t come from a culinary family but says he was always really keen to get stuck in and create his own dishes.
“I like dishes that are traditional with a bit of an update that retain their essence and most importantly, that are made with good raw materials and seasonal produce,” he says. “I like innovation, but with the basis of classic cuisine."
During TaPalma the chefs got to know each other a little and Gabriel says everyone was very supportive and he also learned a lot from other contestants.
“We talked before starting the contest and wished each other luck,” says Gabriel. Martín Berasategui is a benchmark for me. I know that he has been to Mallorca several times, but I have not had the opportunity to meet him yet.”
Pretty much every restaurant in Mallorca is suffering right now because of the coronavirus crisis and Gabriel says Maleva’s loyal customers are helping the restaurant stay afloat.
The newly crowned TaPalma champion 2020 says he loves roasted meat and fish and admits there’s one person’s cooking that he just can’t resist.
“Anything my mother makes is fantastic, especially her meatballs with gravy.”