One of the highlights at Rio Real Hotel is its food. Whether you’re dining in the restaurant, lunching on the Club House terrace or enjoying a room service snack in your hotel room, you’re guaranteed a foodie experience to remember. Not for nothing does the restaurant  rank as one of the best places to eat in Marbella.

In the latest in our Behind the scenes at Rio Real series, we go into the kitchens to the heart of culinary art at Rio Real. We meet the man behind the creative dishes served in the restaurant and Club House , José María Palacio Heras. And discover just what goes into the art on the plates.


Experience with a capital E

The key to creating seriously good food lies fundamentally in experience. Chefs who have cut their culinary teeth over the years in a variety of places tend to cook up the best dishes. Although José María has only been at Rio Real Hotel & Golf for two years, his experience as a chef goes way back.

After gaining the all-important cookery qualifications, he worked at different hotels and restaurants in Spain.  As well as gaining experience in a variety of locations, José María has also done a long list of courses in different types of cuisine. Sushi, Peruvian cookery, creative cookery… to name just a few not to mention wine tasting and pairing courses.


What’s on the menu

Take one look at the Rio Real menu and José María’s wide experience is obvious. In the Snack Menu and Restaurant Menu the diner is literally spoilt for choice. And then there’s the wine list with labels chosen specifically to pair perfectly with what’s on the menu.

“All menus include hard work and love to create dishes that will please all tastes,” says José María. He highlights the creativity behind the dishes and their presentation as well as the team effort that goes into producing every single one.

Rio Real Hotel lies in a privileged location – the Costa del Sol in Andalusia, home to some of the best fresh produce in Spain. The food at Rio Real showcases local and regional produce in dishes that use traditional recipes with modern touches.

Seasonality reigns supreme. “The menu is a living thing,” explains the chef. “All the dishes are made with seasonal produce so the menu changes depending on the time of year and what’s in season at the time.”


An all-star menu

When asked to choose one item on the menu that stands out over the others, José María has to think hard. And in the end, he goes for them all. “With the produce we use for our dishes, they’re all stars on the menu,” he says. “We prepare each and every one with the same determination and hard work. They’re all a labour of love.”


Restaurant with a difference

As well as offering a truly creative culinary experience, the restaurant at Rio Real also comes with an additional plus: the views. The two terraces enjoy some of the best vistas in Marbella, particularly at sundown when the sun sets behind the mountain and golf course backdrop.

“The experience really is unbeatable,” says José María. “Whether clients are having breakfast, lunch or dinner, they’re guaranteed good food prepared with local produce and views that quite simply take your breath away.”

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