Ferrán Who? A Quick Guide to Spain’s Top Chefs
An essential who's who of the Spanish culinary elite
If there was one thing that was crystal clear at this year’s Madrid Fusión, the city’s prestigious annual gastronomy summit, it was that Spain is the world’s center for gastronomic innovation and modern cuisine. Chefs and food savvy attendees from all over the globe crowded into the packed auditorium to hear some of the best chefs in Spain speak, often making the Spanish sessions standing room only.
Despite the fact that I consider myself obsessed with all things food, keeping Spain’s creme de la creme of the culinary world in order is difficult. Michelin star restaurants come with a hefty price tag and it’s hard to keep track of the country’s many star-adorned restaurants without having actually dined in them.
Nonetheless, Spain is famous worldwide for its top chefs, and just as we know the basics about Pablo Picasso and Pedro Almodóvar it is important to know something about Ferran Adrià and Elena Arzak (among others) whether or not you’ll be making a reservation.
Here’s some help with some of the top names:
Considered one of the best chefs in the world, Ferrán Adrià ran the world famous El Bulli restaurant in the small village of Roses, Spain (in Catalonia) for 28 years. El Bulli was extremely successful, with an estimated 400 people vying for every single seat in his restaurant, every day of service. It was awarded best restaurant in the world a record five times. Despite this, Adrià closed down El Bulli in 2011, at the height of its success.
He is now deeply involved as reopening the space as a center for innovation and creativity as well as compiling La Bullipedia, a database that plans to contain “every piece of gastronomic knowledge”.
After an apprenticeship at El Bulli, Andoni Aduriz opened Mugaritz, which quickly became one of Spain’s most acclaimed eateries. Located in Basque Country in a gorgeous natural setting, it is considered to be one of the best 10 restaurants in the world, and is patiently waiting for its third michelin star.
Madrid native David Muñoz is the young man who makes the decisions at DiverXO, one of Madrid’s two-star Michelin restaurants. His concept is Asian fusion, and his dishes are exciting and cutting edge.
He represented Madrid in the best way possible at Madrid Fusión, and was my favorite speaker. Instead of showing videos of how to prepare his plates in his 30 minute slot, he wheeled out a full kitchen and, along with his team, prepared 10 complex plates. Genius!
Ferrán’s younger brother has been doing some equally important things on the Spanish restaurant scene. He was at this year’s Madrid Fusión, where he talked about innovation and the fact that he will be staying in Spain (unlike some of his peers) to support the country during this time of crisis.
Based in Barcelona, his tapas restaurant Tickets and cocktail and snack bar 41° Experience are some of the most difficult reservations in town. His next project is a Mexican tapas bar that is also sure to be delicious and creative.
Voted the best female chef in 2012, Elena Arzak has been working in her family’s restaurant Arzak in San Sebastién since she was a teenager. Along with her father Juan Mari they have created one of the most innovative cuisines in all of Spain.
Elena gave a presentation about creativity where they gave us a look at cutting edge presentation options in the kitchen.
I have walked by his restaurant Aponiente countless times while visiting my husband’s hometown, El Puerto de Santa María, Cádiz, but we always put off making a reservation. After seeing his passion at Madrid Fusión, we will definitely be splurging this summer.
Ángel is doing things with seafood that no one else is even thinking about. He takes abundant local fish and seaweed and proceeds to create dishes that people are already familiar with, like chorizo, braised pork cheek, or lamb chops. Everything is made using seafood, and it looks fantastic.
Another of Spain’s culinary geniuses, Quique Dacosta runs his restaurant by the same name in the touristy town of Denia, Valencia. He is known for using the best local ingredients (usually from within 75 miles of the restaurant) and turning them into creative masterpieces. This year his restaurant was awarded a third michelin star.
The Roca BrothersThe masterminds behind the second best restaurant in the world, the Roca brothers (Joan, Josep, and Jordi) run El Celler de Can Roca, located in the gorgeous city of Girona, Spain.
Jordi also runs what is likely the most creative ice cream parlor in Spain, Rocambolesc, located on Girona’s main drag.
Rodrigo de la Calle
Another Madrid Fusión participant and a proponent of “gastrobotany” Rodrigo de la Calle and his restaurant are located in Aranjuez, a short drive from Madrid. He focuses on the use of fruits and vegetables, and gave a fascinating presentation about the use of rabbit meat at this year’s events.
In addition to these star studded chefs Spain is home to many more excellent chefs and restaurants– 139 Michel star restaurants as of 2012! Click here for more information on Michelin star restaurants in Madrid.
About Lauren Aloise
Drawn to Spain by promises of great food and wine, Lauren loves exploring Madrid's hidden corners and is always searching out the city's best places to grab a bite.