Influences, products, memories, “winks,” techniques from there and there… Internationalization in gastronomy is the order of the day, and more and more restaurants seek to surprise their diners with novel proposals, which they have not tried before and which make them live different experiences. We have traveled to Malabo, the capital of Equatorial Guinea, to interview Josefina Maye, CEO of the Imagine restaurant that has been placed at the top of the national culinary scene and has a great international projection.
Meik Magazine.- Tell us a little about Imagine’s proposal. What makes it unique in Equatorial Guinea?
Josefina Maye.- The gastronomic fusion and the care of the details in the elaboration of the dishes: textures, temperature, etc… that can make the difference between a dish knowing one way or another.
MM.- The current gastronomy is a long way from the mere act of eating. We get carried away more and more by the senses. How does this concept influence your restaurant’s philosophy?
JM.- We try to take care and work a lot the presentation of our dishes, true is that the food enters through the eyes and in our case there are many customers who come to taste dishes that we have published and uploaded to social networks.
MM.- The fusion and mixing of cultures is carried to the stoves, where we seek to harmonize and accentuate flavors and textures, unify ingredients and bring to life creations that we have never tried before, what role does fusion and creativity play in Imagine?
JM.- We work a lot with local products and raw material just because of that explosion of tropical flavors (fruits such as sawa sawa, mango, passion fruit we make with them artisan ice creams and jams), “country tea” for sorbets, biscuits etc. We also implement state-of-the-art cooking techniques (low temperature cooking), attending workshops and conferences (Madrid Fusion)
MM.- What is the secret to the success of your restaurant?
JM.- The commitment and enthusiasm to always continue improving and trying to innovate so as not to get stuck.
MM.- What is the hardest thing about managing a restaurant?
JM.- Reconcile the long and long hours of work, which sometimes requires hospitality, with family life.
MM.- How do you see the catering sector in Equatorial Guinea and what can be the roadmap to follow in the future?
JM.- There are more and more restaurants, it is a sector that is making a lot of progress, but I think there is little variation in the gastronomic offer. The roadmap to follow in the future? in order to a possible openness to tourism, diversify to have a wider gastronomic offer and implement from the competent bodies that we are all within the international standards in terms of quality and service.
MM.- What are the factors a customer values most when they return to Imagine?
JM.- Food: flavor, presentation. I’m treating the customer. Hygiene and comfort
MM.- Three adjectives that define Imagine
JM.- Professionalism, Creativity and Innovation.
MM.- Of all the dishes you have on the menu, what would you recommend
JM.- I would recommend a guacamole with prawns Our star dish: Avocado salad with prawns, has changed over the years, and customers are so satisfied, we can hardly remove it from the menu.
MM What are your next challenges and objectives?
JM.- Our main challenge is that the raw material and gastronomy of Equatorial Guinea is an international benchmark and our goal to continue innovating and remain positioned after eight years since our opening. Before, it was unthinkable to eat a ceviche, tartare or tataki here and now all that is possible.