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Steven Saunders fires up TOWIE star Elliott Wright’s Spanish restaurant - plus his Chicken Marbella recipe

Celebrity chef Steven Saunders cooks a fantastic Marbella chicken stew for his new menu at Olivia’s Restaurant in La Cala, Spain.

Steven Saunders, right, with TOWIE star Elliot Wright (60305498)
Steven Saunders, right, with TOWIE star Elliot Wright (60305498)

So many changes…not just in the UK but in my life also.

Just over a month ago I was living with my father in Suffolk discussing the cost of living, how Liz Truss might be a great PM and how to afford the heating bill. Now I am here, sat in 30 degrees complaining about the heat, wondering what Rishi might do in the UK.

I am loving living here in Spain which was my home for more than eight years, although I do miss you all in the UK and I miss my family very much. I also miss Cambridge, which was my home for many years.

But when I walk down the streets here in La Cala, on the Costa Del Sol, I feel at home and as an emotional man, feeling at home really matters to me. Almost everyone recognises me, they stop me and say hello and tell me how they miss my food. They all say that my Little Geranium restaurant has been such a massive loss to them over here. They all say that they love my food, they all want it back. They all want to help me find another restaurant and they all look at me as some kind of superstar! Maybe it’s my hat and glasses!

After some tough, stressful years, I am now ready to set the world on fire again and I have lots of new ideas and inspiration, which I get from here on the coast and inland in some of the fabulous traditional Spanish restaurants.

My partner gives me the confidence that I need to be able to do my job brilliantly. She calls me baby Bono. I can’t imagine why…

Steven Saunders with his partner (60305496)
Steven Saunders with his partner (60305496)

I am consulting here for my close friend Elliott Wright (from TOWIE) for his celebrity restaurant group called Olivia’s in La Cala (they also have one in Alicante).

Elliott is well known, not just from TOWIE but a face that’s often on TV and, as I write this article, he is opening Hamley’s toy store in Oxford Street, London. With more than 650,000 followers on Instagram, he is what we call an influencer.

Olivia’s is a busy restaurant with live music every day. It is more like a live show serving food, rather than a restaurant with live music, but it’s my job to make it a food experience. We have singers, dancers - we have some really amazing acts. It has an incredible vibe, even in the winter, which is so much busier than I remember pre-pandemic.

The beaches and restaurants were packed here today, with many regulars from the Cambridge area. It seems like a million miles away from the cold weather and the confused politics of the UK but it’s only just over a two-hour flight so you should consider coming over.

Food here is different because of the temperature. It is a lot lighter. Fish generally dominates menus, but there is also a huge tapas culture here as well as an International market.

Tapas means ‘to cover’ in Spanish and, as we start to cover up in the evenings as it gets cooler, we also start to eat more slow cooked meats and stews like the famous Rabo De Torro (oxtail), which I adore.

Which brings me on to one of my favourite chicken dishes of all time from this area. Not many people know about it. It’s called Chicken Marbella and it’s a comfort classic that can be produced at home incredibly cheaply because it uses chicken legs. It’s actually very on trend right now since Chef Ottolenghi released his recipe for it recently.

While we all want to make sure that our shopping lists are affordable, we also want to feel the quality of great food.

My partner and I eat out a lot because it is so much cheaper over here if you select the right places. A meal for two with house wine is under 20 euros a head in most small local restaurants. But when we eat at home we always say it’s the best meal ever and Bono takes off his hat and glasses and relaxes more.

I think this dish ticks all the boxes and could be your best meal for a long time, so please have a go at cooking it. My version of Chicken Marbella is very simple and that is what makes it not just affordable but gives it absolutely fantastic flavours!

Steven’s Chicken Marbella

Steven Saunders' Chicken Marbella (60305494)
Steven Saunders' Chicken Marbella (60305494)

Ingredients - serves four

  • 8 whole chicken legs skin scored
  • 5 cloves garlic, chopped finely
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh oregano leaves
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons of pitted green olives ( stuffed with anchovies optional)
  • 6 tablespoons capers and some caper juice
  • 130g of dried prunes, stones removed
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 1 glass dry white wine
  • 1 glass of chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons of brown sugar or molasses
  • Juice of 2 lemons


In a large bowl, combine the olive oil, vinegar, prunes, olives, capers and juice, bay leaves, garlic, oregano, salt and pepper. This is the marinade. Add the chicken pieces and turn to coat. Refrigerate overnight to let the marinade get into the chicken.

Preheat the oven to 180C. Arrange the chicken in a shallow roasting pan; spoon the marinade over it evenly. Pour in the wine and sprinkle the chicken with the brown sugar or molasses. Now pour in the chicken stock around the legs.

Bake until the chicken pieces yield clear juices when pierced with a fork, 50 minutes approximately (If the chicken browns too quickly, cover lightly with tin foil).

Transfer the chicken pieces to a warm serving platter and top with the prunes, olives and capers mix from the pan. Place the roasting pan over a medium heat and bring the pan juices to a boil. Reduce a little, add the parsley and oregano and pour over. Finally squeeze the lemon juice over the chicken.

Serve with some seasonal vegetables, some creamy mash or even some new potatoes.

Two legs of chicken cooked in this way costs about 85p per portion (excluding the vegetables and mash etc). Eight chicken drumsticks cost about £2.10 to £2.50, so this is amazing value. Saludos Marbella por esta fantastica receta!

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