Passion. Bravery. Independence. Essence. Respect. Happiness. Modesty. Effort. Persistence. Service. Generosity. Ambition. Boldness. Curiosity. And also Memory, because, as Jãvi Antoja de la Rosa, director of the Apicius journal of haute cuisine and Montagud Editores’s Publishing Projects, asserts, ‘Forgetting the past means losing your identity’. These 15 values are common – as sort of ‘commandments’ – to all contemporary culinary projects where excellence excels. And this is true regardless of their location, the number of Michelin stars they have or whether they are legendary fine-dining establishments or emerging projects. Apicius 28 shows in black and white – and via more than 200 pages, 50 creations, 200 dishes and almost 40,000 words – how these 15 indispensable ‘commandments’ of haute cuisine are followed to the letter. And it does so through the words of its 12 indispensable contributors. See the entire list below.
Vicente Patiño (Saiti, Valencia)
Vicente Patiño, of Saiti (Valencia) has a cooking career that spans almost 25 years. Throughout this time he has earned himself the title of ‘the guardian of flavour’, which he proudly showcases at his restaurant. 2007 was, without doubt, a kind of ‘starting point’. That year, he won the Upcoming Chef award at Madrid Fusión; it was his work at the restaurant Sal de Mar (Denia, Alicante) that earned him the recognition. Following that, the chef moved to Valencia and, without realising it, became one of the creators of all the good things that, from a gastronomic point of view, began to take place in the city. Furthermore, he did this while at the restaurant Óleo, where he had begun working in 2008. Four years later, something started to gnaw at Vicente Patiño: he wanted to be his own boss. The chef knew that it was the only way to truly express his cuisine. So he set himself a challenge ... and he succeeded, decisively.
Benito Gómez (Bardal, Ronda)
Benito Gómez has been in this business for 20 years. He started out in Barcelona in 1996, working with Jean Luc Figueras. He then moved to Cuenca to cook at Las Rejas where the distinguished chef Manolo de la Osa was at the helm. It was then when he set himself a new destination: Sanlúcar la Mayor, in the province of Seville, where he cooked at La Alquería de Hacienda Benazuza, owned by elBulli. From there he moved to Ronda (province of Malaga) and worked at Tragabuches alongside Dani García. And in July 2016, he opened Bardal. Since then – thanks to his talent and sensitivity – he has earned the respect of both colleagues and diners. His team explains that this is also due to the fact that his cuisine is characterised, among other things, by an ‘original play of contrasts’.
Abraham García (Viridiana, Madrid)
Abraham García has been cooking for over half a century. The proper understanding of fusion is one of his hallmarks. This cook – who is extremely cultured and has an extraordinary personality – believes that the successful combination of gastronomic ingredients from different cultures began centuries ago. ‘Culinary fusion began with the perilous crossing to the New World,’ García says. ‘The proud caravels were candle-lit larders.’ All the years – or rather, the decades – that this chef has laboured in the kitchen have given much in return. And he has even been the inspiration for a genius... Abraham García of Viridiana is, in effect, the person who awoke the interest in cooking in David Muñoz (DiverXO, three Michelin stars). It happened when Muñoz was still a child, and Muñoz has stated on several occasions that sitting at one of García’s tables was quite an event for him.
Pepe y Diego Rodríguez (El Bohío, Illescas)
Over the years, brothers Pepe and Diego Rodríguez have managed to endow their family restaurant with character and enthusiasm. The result is El Bohío. Pepe Rodríguez runs the kitchen, and his brother Diego runs the front of house. Both have been instrumental for keeping this establishment on the map over the decades. Beyond the fact that his face is familiar on TV – on the panel of judges of the Spanish version of MasterChef – you could say that cooking runs through Pepe Rodríguez’s blood. With Martín Berasategui as his mentor, this chef says he does not view cooking as a profession but as a way of life. For his part, Diego Rodríguez believes in two concepts that he applies to his day-to-day work as a motto: comfort and service.
Aurelio Morales (Cebo, Madrid)
A native of the town of Alcalá de Henares, in the province of Madrid, Aurelio Morales trained in some of the best kitchens in Spain, among them the two-Michelin-starred restaurant Miramar. There, Morales worked as head chef for a culinary star, none other than Paco Pérez, whose book Miramar. Paco Pérez is published by Montagud Editores. Aurelio has also worked for Albert Adrià at his restaurant Tickets, and for Jordi Cruz at ABaC. ‘After training and acquiring positions of leadership and creativity at this country's leading fine-dining establishments, he reached a high level of maturity’, explains the team at Cebo. And with it, the ability to ‘define his own cuisine’. However, the chef is still ‘young enough to continue to develop it’. So now, back in Madrid, Morales cooks the Mediterranean at Cebo. But without forgetting his roots. ‘His contemporary, progressive and free-flowing cuisine has been greatly influenced’ by regions close to the sea, ‘although he has not forgotten that he comes from Madrid, and this complements his style’. The restaurant could also therefore be defined as ‘a story created by two cities’.
Dani Serra (Can Dani, Formentera)
‘And so, we will continue, giving it our best at Kilometre 8.5 on La Mola road on the best island in the Mediterranean.’ Dani Serra is at the helm of the Can Dani restaurant on Formentera. Every dish that emerges from his kitchen is imbued with bravery... something he achieves day after day. On the one hand, he cooks in a land which, until now, seemed to be just a tourist destination. On the other, he does it on an island that is well defined by the months when the weather is at its best. He also highlights this quality when it comes to struggling against adversity, because commitment is something that is ever present at Can Dani. After being awarded, and shortly after, losing, the first Michelin-star in the Pityusic Islands, Serra and his team show that commitment by offering experiences with their heads held high. His work continues to be impeccable.
Marcos Morán (Casa Gerardo, Prendes)
Marcos Morán is an inquisitive, fun-loving and cultured chef. He is still taking Casa Gerardo – a restaurant that has been going for over 135 years – forward. This cook makes great use of flavours. And he does so fearlessly and without limits. He does not hesitate to use the number of ingredients necessary to achieve a goal. And his goal is none other than to encourage diners to discover different nuances in a single mouthful. This cook not only causes a sensation for his excellent work at the helm of Casa Gerardo. He is also a great ambassador for his region in particular and for Spain in general. Marcos is the culinary director of Hispania London, a restaurant that is continuously reaping success in the heart of the City.
Guillermo Cruz (Mugaritz, Rentería)
Guillermo Cruz started working in the restaurant and hospitality industry at the age of 16 with his uncle who owned hotels in Calafell (province of Tarragona). It was then that he became aware that he liked two things. One of them was the world of wine. The other was being with people. In other words, face to face contact. At that moment – although Guillermo was not yet aware – one of the youngest, most brilliant and most promising talents in Spanish wine waiting beginning to emerge. Today, Guillermo is the head sommelier at Mugaritz (Andoni Luis Aduriz’s two-Michelin-starred restaurant in Rentería). There, Cruz does much more than contribute to the 'liquid' side of the gastronomic experience. For example, this sommelier works side-by-side with the R&D department so that the kitchen and wine cellar are one and the same. Literally. This sommelier is, in addition, is a tireless fighter. ‘Fighting’ with himself to become increasingly better at what he does. And he does it by studying. Guillermo is constantly learning and always wants more than the latest internationally prestigious diploma he has achieved. For him, it is never enough.
Ramón Freixa (Ramón Freixa, Madrid)
Ramón Freixa’s cuisine is based on three pillars: daring, innovation and common sense. And all of this with impeccable technique. At the table, the results speaks for themselves: excellence through a variety of visual games. In other words, creations where an aesthetic reigns with elegance and where flavour is given pride of place. Tradition and cutting edge. Put another way: madness and common sense. His love for his craft forms the backdrop of his work. Both Ramón and his cuisine are unmistakably Mediterranean. Born in 1971 in a small town in the province of Barcelona, his love of cooking arose from being in the family kitchen. His academic training was at the School of Hospitality of San Pol, as well as in the region of Languiole in France. And it was in France where he also worked with Michel Bras.
Pedro Subijana (Akelarre, San Sebastián)
Despite being almost 70, Pedro Subijana is still tireless and ready for action. This cook has been serving elegance and excellence at the tables of Akelarre for over 40 years. There are, undoubtedly, two words that have always been present – and very tangibly so –throughout Pedro Subijana’s entire career. One of them is elegance. The other, tenacity. This chef has for years been causing a sensation with his cuisine. According to his team, this is due, on the one hand, on ‘his artistic skill‘ in the kitchen. And, on the other, to ‘constant effort‘. The young Subijana began to train as a chef at the Euromar Hotel School in Zarautz. Furthermore, he was there with Luis Irizar, master of countless chefs. Following that, he worked hard in Vitoria, Tolosa and Madrid, among other places. He started cooking at Akelarre in 1975. Four years later, in 1979, he won the National Gastronomy Award for Best Chef.
Pepe Solla (Casa Solla, Poio)
Pepe Solla (Pontevedra, 1966) has been shaking up the Galician culinary scene for years. And he has been doing it quietly and discreetly. Not vociferously or noisily. Perhaps this is because this is not actually what he has in mind. Rather, it is about cooking in a land that he loves and to which he feels indebted. This chef, at the helm of Casa Solla (Poio, Pontevedra), is a silent earthquake. And his story is told in the book Casa Solla. Pepe Solla. When Ancestral Becomes Eternal (published by Montagud Editores). Pepe Solla cooks Galicia, his Galicia, which is simply a magical combination of flavours and aromas. These come together with unique produce, brave and perseverant people, and breath-taking landscapes. And all of this is conveyed in the memorable dishes served at Casa Solla. With a degree in business administration, Pepe Solla began to take part in the day-to-day running of the front of house at the family restaurant, and also taking charge of the wine. Today, he makes his presence felt in the dining room at each meal session. He does so by finishing off dishes in front of diners and attending to them graciously.
Óscar Molina (La Gaia, Ibiza)
Óscar Molina, the chef who heads the La Gaia restaurant, is the architect, standard bearer and creator of the concept ‘Japeruvian cuisine’. If Nikkei cuisine is the fusion of Japanese and Peruvian gastronomies; the cuisine Molina creates is its evolution. It basically consists of incorporating creative twists inspired by the latest culinary trends. The result is Óscar Molina's culinary career of more than 20 years. To which can be added a huge number of trips he has taken all over the world. While on his travels, this chef has learnt to get a feel for the secrets of international cuisine, culminating in a very personal, signature cuisine that promises to surprise diners season after season.