The chef who talks to mullets in Marbella … where Swedish foresters used to spend their summers

Diego del Río at the facilities of the Boho Club in Marbella. / I

Diego del Río, the friend of the Basques who cooks at the Boho Club hotel, presents another face of the ‘thousand Marbellas’

Mitxel Ezquiaga

There are many marbellas. There is Hello, there is that Marbella that now wants to recover the flavor of an Andalusian city with its roots and there is the Marbella of the golden mile. And almost everyone is surprising.

Hello: I am in the middle of that golden mile, in an amazing place, at the crossroads between Sweden and Andalusia, and that is why I lead this chronicle with such a long sentence that it could very well be the title of a novel by a Scandinavian author. It is one of those buildings with a history that will delight Pedro Torrijos, the man who traces architecture with a soul. Today it is the Boho Club, a luxury boutique hotel with only thirty rooms, very different from its surroundings, but until the 1960s it was a strange residence created by the Swedish Forest Center for its workers to rest. Yes, the result of that time when we wanted to be Swedish for initiatives like this.

Eventually the residence fell into disuse, and a few years ago the complex was acquired by a company, also Swedish, who decided to give that space another life as a luxury hotel, but faithful to the old buildings. In that enclave they decided to give prominence to their kitchens, hiring an equally special chef, Diego del Río, very Andalusian and not very Scandinavian, even if a friend of the Basques, as will be seen later. Right now we cross this hotel with a large swimming pool, near the sea and a hippy but expensive air: bohemian chic, they say. It is not cheap, but it gives peace, with the emphasis of nature and works of art.

Aerial image of the hotel, which respects the air of the local architecture.

What am I doing here? Good friends offer me to know the cuisine of the Boho Club. “Now you Basques make a lot of jokes about Euskadiz, that Cadiz full of Gipuzkoan and Biscayans, but Marbella and the coast of Malaga do not fail to receive the Basques … a long time ago” , they tell me proudly from Marbella. “I am an admirer of Basque cuisine and I have good friends there, from Dani López, from Kokotxa to Donostia, to Mikel Zeberio, master of everything and parsley in many sauces”, Diego del Río tells me.

The chef, who has already become a broker when he got his first Michelin star with the El Lago restaurant, says he likes to cook more than in front of microphones. “If we deal with music, I would be an ‘indie’ chef, not a commercial one, even if I cook food that everyone likes, without too much nonsense,” he jokes. He does not like to say generalizations, but if he is asked about the mullet, the protagonist of one of his stellar dishes and a symbol of his way of understanding the kitchen, with the protagonist product and only with a soft and mischievous update, he speaks. It’s a lot.

Regular patrons’ favorite starters, such as shrimp croquettes and their tartare or corn soup, with avocado mojo and pickles, and dishes such as rossini sirloin with robuchon mashed potatoes, Pedro Ximénez sauce, truffle and foie are a house brand. Here’s what your letter is like, which in these summer months is expanding to all the public. “I cook Andalusian cuisine, with the product brought from nearby markets and fruit and vegetables from trusted vendors, but at the same time knowing that I am in an international style hotel”. The steak tartare is another classic of a professional who likes to cook so much that he even prepares the menu of the day for his team before the start of the service. “I enjoy making good lentils.”

What they call “bohemian chic” dominates the atmosphere of the place. /

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And this is the Boho Club, decontracté, with a master barman, background DJ music and drinks at night for those who want to extend the night in Marbella. The restaurant is independent from the rest of the hotel and is open to those who want to taste its menu or its drinks

The Swedish foresters are gone, or perhaps their children are there, because many Swedish tourists still spend their holidays in this hotel. Well, I’ll leave you. Diego is here with the mullet: he is one of those chefs who enjoy finishing the dish at the table, serving the final juice or some other touch.

Marbella always surprises: there is the one with the coat of arms, yes, and that of Puerto Banús of the new and old rich, but also its old part in the discreet hour when tourists are still drinking their morning coffee.

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