If the planet designed restaurants...

This month we decided to get up close and personal with the culinary genius behind one of Marbella’s finest gastronomic destinations, BREATHE. Chef Alfonso Lillo talks Michelin stars, respecting the planet and how BREATHE brought him to Marbella, as well as an insight into AIR, the final piece of the puzzle. 


Can you share with us a bit about your career to date, before you joined BREATHE?

My career began in Bournemouth at The Royal Bar where I was working as a Kitchen Porter.  I had been studying economics, but being amongst the bustle of the kitchen, I just knew I wanted to be a chef, much to my parents’ disappointment! Whilst at the time they felt I was wasting my studies, my economics background has proven hugely advantageous in my career as 50% of my job is budgets and working with numbers, it’s not all in the kitchen! I studied Culinary Arts at the University of London before embarking on 15 years working in the city for Gordon Ramsay and at various Michelin star awarded venues. I have also worked as the private chef to the King of Qatar and most recently at the best boutique hotel in Palma de Mallorca, Sant Francesc, before coming to BREATHE. 


What attracted you to the BREATHE concept?

I had never been to Marbella before I joined BREATHE, it was entirely the project, its concept and the mission that excited me. Whilst previously chefs all strived for Michelin stars, now I feel people are starting to care more about the food itself. Where it comes from… the effect it has on the environment, the quality etc. I loved the idea of being part of something that had the utmost respect for our planet, whilst still offering the best quality you can buy. 


How would you describe GROUND in your own words?

Casual, healthy cuisine with a strong Mediterranean influence. We aim throughout the entire venue to use local produce wherever possible. In GROUND we use no refined sugar, only natural fruit sugars, honey, pollen etc. GROUND opens up the BREATHE offering to a new clientele and is proving particular popular with fitness enthusiasts and mums with young children, which is great to see. 


What can customers expect from the food at Breathe?

Real, quality products. The most important aspect to me is that the products speak for themselves, they don’t need elaborate cooking methods or decedent sauces as they are the best quality products you can buy. My focus is on the product itself, whether its meat, fish or fresh vegetables. 


What can we expect from AIR when it opens?

We wanted to offer something a little different, there are an abundance of sushi restaurants in the area, so we decided to go down a different route with a raw menu comprising of tartars, ceviches and carpaccio. The concept is sharing plates and the food is designed to accompany the impressive drinks menu. It won’t be an extensive menu, a small collection of quality, raw produce, and like nothing you have seen before in Marbella. 


And finally, we couldn’t leave without hearing your recommendations?

Hmmm, in BREATHE I would say the Tomahawk Steak or if you’re a fish fan, the Seared Tuna Tatiki with Pineapple Salsa and Seaweed Salad or the Salmon Tiradito! 


Well, we know what we are having this weekend… do you?