This is our first People of Gran Canaria Interview. So lets start things off with chef and business owner David Gibson from Fusion Restaurant & Loungebar in Playa del Ingles. We have interviewed David recently as the first person for our Love Gran Canaria YouTube Channel. Below you can find the transcript of the interview and some images from David’s travels
David, where are you from?
A town called Jarrow in the North East of England just outside Newcastle. Apparently Jarrow is famous for the ’Jarrow March’. Just after the second world war they lost all their shipping industry and there was high unemployment and a group of men marched from Jarrow to Downing Street to protest and that is what it is most famous for.
How long have you lived in Gran Canaria?
25 years! Since 1995.
Where do you live on the island?
Now I live in Puerto Rico, which I have kind of always lived here apart from a 3 year stint when I moved to Playa del Ingles when I opened the business there.
So I then had 3 years in Playa del Ingles. Pablo my partner and myself are hoping to move back up to Playa del Ingles at some point.
I always said I wouldn’t want to live in Playa del Ingles. I always thought it was too built up, too touristy.
But, when I moved there I was living in a small bungalow complex in the centre of Playa del Ingles and it was the most peaceful place I have ever lived. I really enjoyed the fact that you can walk everywhere and I didn’t expect to like living there so much. We really want to move back to that area of Playa del Ingles/Maspalomas.
What was your first impression when you arrived?
I arrived here on the 11th of December 1995, on my own, I was in a small apartment, studio apartment in Puerto Rico and I was in shock! What had I done? What am I doing here! I had been on holiday a few times before and I kind of vaguely knew a little bit about the island but I was in shock for a whole month. My initial impression was one of OMG why am I here!
What was the first job you had in Gran Canaria?
It was in Anfi del Mar. I applied for a job from the UK to work as a sales rep on the resort. So I left my job and I had one months accommodation paid for so I decided to give it a go and see if it worked or not. I thought after a month if it doesn’t work out then I can always go back.
As a sales rep, I only lasted 6 months. It wasn’t really the job for me. I did get a few sales in the first few months but in the end they gave me a month that I had to get a sale – I didn’t! Then, I didn’t know what I was going to do. I was determined that I wasn’t going to go back home because everyone was expecting that, so just out of shear stubbornness I was determined not to go back home.
Some people I had met were OPC’ing on the streets with the scratch cards but I really didn’t think I could do that. No, that’s definitely not for me, but anyway this girl I knew said I should give it a go and I did, and I ended up doing that. I worked as an OPC for 2 years I think and then after that I was a team manager for 10 years. I was definitely a better manager than I was an OPC!
So you made a massive change and now own a restaurant, tell us how that happened.
Well it kind of started in 2006, I started to get a bit bored with the job, it was an easy job and I had a good team of sales reps. After all those years the money just wasn’t enough for me. I needed a new challenge basically.
I started thinking all those years that I trained as a chef and in the hospitality industry, I started thinking well that must be for something. And, then I had an idea to open a restaurant. So I gave myself a year and I said by 2007 I was going to open a restaurant and leave Anfi.
I didn’t have a clue how I was going to do it. I just decided I was going to do it! I started writing ideas down for a concept, though I had a completely different concept to what it is now. In 2006 I went to Vietnam and travelled for a month and that kind of brought the inspiration for FUSION.
I had been interested in food from South East Asia anyway so it it all just kind of fell in to place. So I opened the one in Arguineguin in 2007 and it was always a struggle. I decided I would be better in a busier place. So I decided I would be better opening a restaurant in Playa del Ingles. So I opened that one in 2014. I tried to run the 2 but it just wasn’t the same. It was too much work!
I never worked so hard in all my life! I closed the Arguineguin restaurant which was definitely the best decision.
Amazing, So the restaurant has been really successful and you have actually won lots of awards!
I already had a bit of a reputation so it made it a little easier to go to a new place. So yes I have done well since and progressed each year.
David is not only the owner of the restaurant in Playa del Ingles but also the very talented head chef.
So what kind of Restaurant is Fusion, tell us about that?
It is a South East Asian restaurant. The menu is obviously based on my travels. That first trip to Vietnam, since then I have travelled in Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines, Cambodia. So my plan is to cover the whole of South East Asia. The menu is based on those travels.
Some dishes are authentic for example the Thai curries they are very authentic how you would eat a curry in Thailand but a lot of the dishes are just sort of based on the dishes I have tasted and I have adapted them. I kind of get back from travelling and I’ll cook and and think that won’t quite work here so I use the flavours from it and adapt it and it eventually comes as something else. So there are some authentic dishes and some creations from dishes I have tasted.
David so what would be your favourite bar or restaurant?
My favourite restaurant would be Don Quijote in Puerto Rico down by the harbour, underneath the Porto Novo apartments. It is a restaurant that has been there for years and years and years and just in recent years the owners have taken a bit of a back seat and their daughter and her partner have took over.
It has had a facelift, it is more contemporary now than it used to be although the menu is more or less the same but they are creating some different dishes. I have never had a bad meal there and they make the best Gambas al ajillo! It has a bit of everything. The owner is from mainland Spain, he is also a chef and his wife is from Holland I think.
What are your MUST SEE’s on Gran Canaria?
Maspalomas sand dunes, everybody needs to see that, you can park up by the charca, where the camel safari is, in Meloneras. Also, Roque Nublo is a brilliant place to see. It is a really nice walk walk, not too difficult to get to the summit. Everyone should also go to at least one traditional village like Teror. Teror is beautiful and I would definitely recommend somebody to visit. Also Las Palmas, the old part of Las Palmas especially.
What do you LOVE most about living here?
Apart from the obvious which is the weather, I love the Diversity of the island! I love the fact that you can go to a beach here in the South one day, go up in to the mountains another day, you can go to the North where it is green and feels almost like you are back in the UK. It is just the diversity and the contrasts of the island I love. The summer weather I don’t like, it is too hot for me but now at this time of year in the winter months I much prefer it.
Thank you so much David Gibson for sharing your insider knowledge with us. We hope to see you at Fusion Restaurant soon. Please check out their FUSION Restaurant Micro Website within our Love Gran Canaria Regional Guide. David has also prepared some special offers for us here: Fusion Restaurant Offers
The Fusion Restaurant and Loungebar in Playa del Ingles is located on Avenida Alfareces Provisonales, which is the main road down to the beach and just around the corner from the Yumbo Centre.
For up to date details click on FUSION Restaurant & Loungebar Micro Website
Interview and transcript by Nicky Hobson