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Cheat Day: Jorge Vera Gutiérrez, chef de cuisine at Bayfare Social

Where do the notable chefs and bartenders of Hong Kong’s F&B scene like to eat when they’re not cooking? What is their best home-cooked meal? Cheat Day goes behind the scenes with the city’s culinarians and tastemakers to find out exactly what their personal favourites are during their days off.

As it turns out, the city’s top chefs are all, really, just like us. I say this because like me, Bayfare Social newest chef de cuisine, Jorge Gutiérrez, shares the same sweet-tooth habit of enjoying a Kinder Bueno after dinner. But unlike Gutiérrez, I am unable of whipping up fantastic plates of beautiful Spanish fare. So I guess that’s where we differ.

But returning to Gutiérrez’s cooking at the convivial dining room, it’s a stunning representation of the vibrant cuisine in newer, more innovative plates; deliciously delicate in flavour and all an accumulation of Gutierrez culinary journey thus far.

Jorge Vera Gutiérrez, chef de cuisine of Bayfare Social

“I pull my cooking techniques from many years of being inspired by excellent chefs worldwide. What you experience in Bayfare is an amalgamation of the tastes and experiences of these mentors,” he shares.

The Tenerife-native, humbly beginning at his family-run restaurant back home, is an impressive owner of a Michelin Star-speckled resume, from two-starred DSTAgE with Diego Guerrero and three-starred Bibo with Dani Garcia in Madrid. A short stint at Copenhagen’s Kødbyens Fiskebar and modern Danish Aamanns later, Gutiérrez arrived in Hong Kong with a previous post as head chef of Sai Ying Pun’s popular La Paloma.

“Being a chef gives me the ability to create and share my passion with a wide range of people,” Gutiérrez explains. “I love to bring Spain into different cultures and see how much value it holds in people’s lives.”

“The small community in Hong Kong pushes me to be better and constantly challenge myself to be more inventive because there are many talented chefs in the city,” he continues. “In order to stand out we have to challenge ourselves and they motivate me to keep improving.”

Rosewood’s sleek, glossy interiors that surround Bayfare Social might not be the spitting image of Madrid’s bustling gastro-markets, but Gutiérrez feels right at home, preparing a delectable menu of authentic Spanish fare. He renews classic culinary traditions with his own, re-imagined twist, elevating dishes through the adding of specific ingredients, subtracting the extraneous and finishing with thoughtful plating presentation — but only in considered quantities.

Because some things must remain the same.

He specifically singles out the paella, where he elaborates on the simple, no-frills creation that relies heavily on a core base starter for any Spanish dish: sofrito. Aromatics including onions, garlic and tomato are lightly stir-fried before continuing towards a designated recipe, but as Gutiérrez describes, “Sofrito is the essence and heart of Spanish cuisine.”

Gutiérrez’s new additions — also created to showcase the best of seasonal Spanish produce — extends to Scallop Tiradito, raw Hokkaido scallop in a saucy bed of escabeche dressing; Tortilla de Patatas, a traditional Spanish potato omelette; Grilled Spanish sea bass in a smokey red pepper sauce, and of course, the signature Cochinillo Asado, traditional roasted Spanish sucking pig with a incredibly crispy, crackly skin.

As you can see, Bayfare Social is not the same broad Mediterranean concept it once was; now a dedicated destination for honest, authentic Spanish flavours, and as Gutiérrez hopes, “an experience that one can shared with loved ones over conversation and laughter.”

Cheat Day with Jorge Vera Gutiérrez

What was the last meal you had?  

Awa Awa on Peel Street. 

When did you realise you loved to cook/ wanted to pursue a career in the kitchen?  

Cooking has always been an integral part of who my family is, and my older brother became a chef before me.  

What was the best piece of professional advice you’ve ever received?  

Don’t drink too much the night before, because you need to show up to work the next day. 

Tell me some of your signature dishes/ creations?  

The sauce I use for the seabass is a family recipe which has been passed by generations. It’s exactly how my mother used to make it.  

cheat day Jorge Gutierrez
Grilled Spanish Seabass (HK$260)

How do you design your menu? What is your process?  

A lot of trial and error. I cook from my heart and use those around me to tell me when we’ve found a winning dish. 

Honestly, what is it like working with you in the kitchen?  

Respectful. I honestly feel that I’m a new generation chef. You won’t find me throwing pans and losing my temper. 

Your favourite local Hong Kong ingredient to use?  

Local baby squid.

Do you cook at home? If so, what is your go-to home-cooked dish?  

I love to have BBQ with friends on the roof. 

Lobster Paella (HK$650)
cheat day Jorge Gutierrez
Scallop Tiradito (HK$180)

You have 30 minutes. What will you make?  

Recently, I am very fitness-focused and will whip up a salad with veggies and protein, usually some salmon and broccolini.  

Name the top three favourite ingredients/condiments you currently own in your pantry. 

Paprika, nora peppers, and of course, olive oil.  

What are your guilty pleasures? 

 Kinder Bueno after a busy day.  

The best meal you ever had?  

108 in Copenhagen by Kristian Baumann.

What was your most memorable food moment? 

Last Christmas, I spent a Christmas day with my family after a long time. The food had never tasted so good.  

What is one dish/snack/food you can’t live without?  

Iberico Ham. 

cheat day Jorge Gutierrez
Cochinillo Asado (HK$460)

Savoury or sweet?  

Savoury. Spain has very few sweet dishes.  

Where do you like to go on your day off?  

The beach or on a boat. I need to be in the water.  

The five best dishes/drinks you’ve had in Hong Kong?

  • Peking duck at Lung King Heen.
  • Wonton soup at Tsim Chai Kee Noodle Shop.
  • Crispy eel skin at Ye Shanghai.
  • Yellow fried chicken at Java Road Food Market.
  • Char siu at Sun Kwai Heung.

Something you want to try while in Hong Kong?  

Snake soup.

Bayfare Social, 5/F Rosewood Hong Kong, Victoria Dockside, 18 Salisbury Rd, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon, Hong Kong, +852 3891 8732

Lorria Sahmet
After two years writing in luxury retail, Lorria now covers food and drink happenings in Hong Kong. When not taste-testing for the best fries in the city (shoestring, always!), find her cosied up at home skimming through Netflix or nurturing baby plants in her indoor greenhouse. She is happiest by the ocean with a giant fishbowl-glass of Aperol Spritz.
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