David Molina of BARcelona Tapas, Part 1

Categories: Chef's Choice

This is part one of Robin Wheeler's Chef's Choice interview with David Molina of BARcelona Tapas. To read part two, click here. Part three, a recipe from Chef Molina, is here.

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Chef David Molina of BARcelona Tapas is quiet. When he speaks, it's soft and succinct, an artifact of his intense focus on his food and the job in front of him.

"I don't have a lot of time to do much of anything," he says. "This place keeps me really busy. If I do have some free time, I just spend time at home. I pay rent there. My stuff hangs out there. I live here."

"Here" is the restaurant's tiny galley kitchen, barely big enough for three people, the walls not one full step apart. "This kitchen is so -- it's not like normal kitchens. It's like doing aerobics for twelve hours." says Molina. "It's crazy. It also makes it hard to get good people who can work there. They can be fantastic cooks, but it's a different environment."

It's an environment Molina has thrived in for more than eight years. He helped open BARcelona after starting his career at Blue Water Grill when it was still on Hampton, and opening the Kirkwood location. He spent a year at Bound'ry, in Nasvhille, before returning to St. Louis to help open Restaurant Figaro.

He'd developed a love of tapas before his time at BARcelona. As a child in Texas, he loved his grandmother's pumpkin empanadas. His time at Bound'ry allowed him to expand his knowledge of global cuisine. "I think Boundary was probably the most eye-opening. There were no limits on it. It was global cuisines and we didn't really have budget restrictions. We got stuff from all over the world, and I was introduced to a lot of new food and techniques.

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Robin Wheeler
​"There was just so much," he goes on. "We had full-time bakers I learned from. We had two pastry chefs. It was still pretty southern influenced, but the ingredients we had available were pretty unlimited. We'd get a knock on our back door once a week and it would be a farmer, pulled up in his truck, just loaded with all this awesome produce for dirt cheap. This was in '01, '02. It was great."

Molina will soon return to the Nashville culinary scene. Having successfully opened a BARcelona Tapas in Indianapolis, he and owner Frank Schmitz are planning another location to open in Nashville later this year. He'd like to keep opening restaurants throughout the Midwest with Johnson and Schmitz, until he decides it's time for his own venture.

When asked to elaborate about what he has in mind for his own restaurant, though, he's noncommittal. "That's coming shortly, but I'm pretty happy with what I'm doing."

In a way his tiny kitchen suits him.

"It's something new every day, always new challenges. I like the people here," he says, then pauses to move out of the path of a cook carrying a flat filled with one-gallon cans of tomatoes. "It's fun, it's fast-paced. I like the pace of it all."

{To be continued...}

BARcelona Tapas
34 North Central Avenue, Clayton
314-863-9909


Location Info

BARcelona Tapas Restaurant

34 N. Central Ave., Clayton, MO

Category: Restaurant

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