Andrés Ruiz is the perfect fit for the Wellness team at the Marbella Club Hotel. Unlike many stressed-out chefs who work too many hours and neglect their health, he is passionate about health and fitness.

Andrés is a keen long-distance runner, having recently completed races upon the peaks of Europe and finishing the 101km Ronda race. As a dedicated athlete, he knows the importance of feeding mind and body the fuel they need. Sound nutrition is as much a part of his daily life as of his work.

The Marbella Club Hotel has worked hard to raise the bar for the wellness industry on the Coast. Wellbeing, spa, nutrition and fitness are the four cornerstones of its wellness offerings, which comprise a sea-facing thalassotherapy spa, a range of deepy nurturing Detox, De-Stress and Sleep rituals, and the new Holistic Studio (where you can target issues ranging from adrenal burnout, to insomnia, weight loss and fitness or nutrition). The Club also has a daily agenda of activities, ranging from aerial yoga, Pilates and kundalini energy healing to meditation and nutritional wellbeing workshops.

Andrés joined the team only recently but he is already working to create bespoke wellness menus for guests following one of the resort’s lifestyle programmes (detox, sleep-enhancing, stress-reduction, relaxation, etc.). He works closely alongside Naturopath Nutritionists Paloma Ruiz and Carolyne Ji, who see wholesome nutrition as a way to achieve the state of homeostasis that the body needs to function well.

On the day of our meeting, Andrés is excited about what is to come, yet very much ‘in the here and now’. He has the energy of a visionary and the serenity of a chef who has headed top-level kitchens – including those of the five-star Villa Padierna Thermas de Carratraca Hotel and Restaurante La Alternativa – famed for serving ecological food. At the Marbella Club, he has a huge task ahead of him, since different health needs and conditions have specific nutritional requirements.

In addition to crafting menus, Andrés is also on hand for any special wishes diners may have. The MC Group is known for its highly personalised approach to client service. “Yesterday, a family asked me to create a menu with various vegetarian dishes – including salads, lasagna, and tofu options. Last week, a client who had digestive issues asked me to teach him how to cook healthy dishes, so I gave him a private workshop.” It’s all in a day’s work; Andrés likes to please and surprise.

At the MC, Andrés will be concocting creations made primarily with lean chicken and fish, foregoing red meat for an extra health push.”Many of the dishes will be vegan, made with tofu, seitan, tempeh, beans, and seeds – without sacrificing an iota of flavour.” The Chef is also big on superfoods; he introduces antioxidant-rich ingredients like matcha, turmeric, and spirulina, into many recipes. This summer, he has already displayed his talent with a host of refreshing marvels such as a creamy gazpacho/salmorejo made with mango, cherry, and watermelon, as well as a clean fennel and leek crème. “The resort has its own organic garden, so we source many herbs and spices directly from our backyard,” he says.

Andrés wants diners to know that nutritious food need not be boring – quite the contrary! “Healthy haute cuisine is my thing. Vegan dishes, for instance, can taste just as good as those containing meat. In fact, there is nothing you can’t do with the right technique. You can make delicious soups, stews, and even meat-free ‘steaks’ that don’t make diners feel that they are making any sacrifices.”

Andrés is as mad about healthy desserts and sides as he is about mains. Thus, he makes wonderful gluten-free bread, protein balls, and desserts such as brownies and carrot cake – all of which contain zero sugar. Instead, he uses alternatives like honey and Xylitol. The cakes don’t even contain flour! Here’s a secret: Andrés pulverises almonds instead to give his cakes consistency and ‘body’. He shows me one of his star creations: a delicate peach carpaccio served with caramelised date and a blueberry vinaigrette – talk about indulging in guilt-free pleasures!

Andrés is excited about joining the MC team, which is famed for its passion for keeping up with the latest international trends. The management has an open, supportive attitude towards staff, thus fostering the kind of creativity and innovation that abounds in this visionary yet down-to-earth Chef with a thirst for learning. His latest area of research? Nutrigenomics – the study of how nutrition and genes interact. By continuing to experiment and expand his mind, while working hard on his fitness, he is a fine example of how treating yourself right can result in an optimal level of health and happiness.