Chef Raúl Cob has cooked authentic Valencian cuisine around the world for many years. Several months ago, his journey brought him to Ann Arbor.
Cob was recently hired as the head chef at Aventura. While this city is a distinct change from many of the places he’s cooked in the past, he’s excited to continue pursuing his passion and bring an authentic additional flavor to Ann Arbor’s restaurant scene.
Always a chef
“I was always a chef,” Cob said, “always a cook, always cooking in my house, my friend’s house, everywhere.”
Cob was born in 1971 in Valencia, a cosmopolitan hub on the east coast of Spain that’s famous for its cuisine, especially paella. But it took some time for Cob to become a professional chef. In college, he studied economics, and after graduation he worked in an office. It wasn’t until 2004 that he decided to buy his own restaurant in Valencia.
“It changed my life,” Cob said. That restaurant, El Cabanyal, became successful and locally famous for its paella and seafood, but after several years, Cob decided he needed to make a change. Since leaving Valencia, he has spent time as a chef at a luxury resort in Qatar and, just before his move to Ann Arbor, at the Socarrat Paella Bar in New York City.
Cob’s work abroad has earned him international recognition. Most recently, the website WikiPaella recognized him for the international divulgation of the authentic paella in addition to his work sharing Valencian cuisine around the world.
Chef Cob’s stint in the U.S. has required him to make adaptations, tweaking his Spanish approach to fit American tastes, noting that America has many more vegetarian diners than Spain, and there’s an expectation here that the food should arrive more quickly.
Additionally, the presentation of dishes is a higher priority in the States. “When I cook paella in my place ( in Spain), I don’t care about the garnish. I don’t care about the decoration. I want the best flavor possible,” he said. “In Valencia, even in the restaurants, we present the paella with not much garnish on the top, but I have to adapt.”
Chef Cob is gearing up to launch a new menu at Aventura. He’ll cook the paella in the authentic, Valencian way, and he plans to add a charcutería at the bar, slow cooking pintxos and tapas for diners.
When people walk into his new vision of Aventura, Cob said, “I want them to understand that this chef is from Spain, that he’s famous in Spain and have them say ‘I want to try authentic Spanish cuisine at Aventura’.”