Signature Dishes - 2

By Real Academia de Gastronomía

Real Academia de Gastronomía

An overview of Spanish haute cuisine: reflections on the journeys and individuality of its creators. A look at the profiles and dishes of some of the most renowned chefs on the Spanish culinary scene.

"Astro Rey" (King of the Skies)Original Source: Restaurante Sant Pau

Spanish haute cuisine is at the forefront of global creativity; the richness and variety of Spanish raw ingredients, together with the talents of a diverse group of chefs, has given rise to a sensational gastronomic offering of the highest quality.

Following in the footsteps of the maestro Ferran Adrià, head chef of elBulli, each of these chefs has found their own style. This is reflected in their cutting-edge cuisines, full of their own identity, that honor produce whilst paying tribute to tradition and the land.

Rodrigo de la CalleOriginal Source: Restaurante El Invernadero

Rodrigo de la Calle: Following the Green Path

This Madrid-based chef has spent over a decade creating haute cuisine dishes based on vegetables, demonstrating his versatility through what he calls the "Green Revolution."

Rodrigo de la CalleOriginal Source: Restaurante El Invernadero

The son of a farmer and grandson of chefs, de la Calle studied at the School of Hotel Management in Aranjuez and combined both facets of his family background by creating the concept of "gastrobotanics," together with Santiago Orts. This discipline researches new plant species, recovers lost or forgotten varieties, and studies their culinary uses.

In his Madrid restaurant, El Invernadero (The Greenhouse), he creates "a rich, tasty, succulent, healthy, emotional gastronomic experience," based on fruits, nuts, roots, stems, leaves, pods, mushrooms, fungi, flowers, and seeds.

In 2012 he launched the concept of a "Green Revolution" in the form of a menu based on fruits, vegetables, and mushrooms, limiting the use of animal products to seasoning only. Ever since then, he has continued his research into vegetables and the numerous ways in which they can be served.

Essence of BeetrootOriginal Source: Restaurante El Invernadero

Essence of beetroot.

This is one of the dishes that has been a feature of the chef's repertoire throughout the history of gastrobotanics, in various different incarnations that have included dessert and an appetizer.

"It's a clear example of the fact that eating vegetables is not only healthy, but can also be fun and lighthearted. Trying it transports us back to the garden and the land, a sensation that comes from the flavors of the beetroot which, together with the apple and the avocado, give the dish its texture and creaminess. It's an icon in our recipe book!"

Diego GuerreroOriginal Source: Restaurante DSTAGE

Diego Guerrero: Cooking Without Rules

Aiming for complete creative freedom without labels, Diego Guerrero's restaurant DSTAgE offers a version of haute cuisine that is constantly evolving and free from constraints, whose objective is a close relationship with its clients.

Diego GuerreroOriginal Source: Restaurante DSTAGE

Diego Guerrero, born in Vitoria in 1975 and trained in places such as Martín Berasategui's flagship restaurant in Lasarte, launched the restaurant DSTAgE in Madrid in July 2014.

DSTAgE exemplifies Guerrero's own personal definition of a contemporary haute cuisine restaurant in which closeness and informality are the main features. It is a space that "aims to be honest and authentic, and to entertain, surprise, excite…"

Everything that is put on a plate, openly and in full view of the guests, is there for a reason and has a story behind it that Diego will gladly share, since the kitchen is open to the dining room. This brings guests closer to everything that goes on in the kitchen, in an industrial setting, with no tablecloths or formalities.

Carrot "pantxineta"Original Source: Restaurante DSTAGE

Carrot "pantxineta."

"This is a reference to memories of food and to my roots, in which we recreate a typical Basque dish, pantxineta (a puff pastry bun with a cream filling). In the DSTAgE version, we replace the puff pastry with cured carrots."

Ángel LeónOriginal Source: Restaurante Aponiente

Ángel León: Bringing the Sea to Your Table

Research into the marine environment has become this Andalusian chef's raison d'être. Every year, he comes up with new surprises in his restaurant, Aponiente, with innovative offerings based on fish, seafood, and other edible ingredients from the sea.

Ángel LeónOriginal Source: Restaurante Aponiente

Ángel León learned to fish with his father in the Bay of Cádiz. His love for the sea has become the trademark of his cuisine, earning him the nickname "Chef of the Sea."

In 2007 he opened the first Aponiente, where he began researching uses for discarded fish (he makes seafood sausages with them), seaweed, and plankton.

Since 2015, Aponiente has been located in a tide mill on the outskirts of Cádiz. As well as cooking, they also work on recovering the estuary and the surrounding salt pans.

Rice with plankton, sea snails, quinoa, and aioliOriginal Source: Restaurante Aponiente

Rice with plankton, sea snails, quinoa, and aioli.

In 2009 Ángel León discussed edible plankton in a presentation given at the Madrid Fusión gastronomic conference, and ever since it has been an essential ingredient in and one of the hallmarks of his cuisine.

Paco MoralesOriginal Source: Restaurante Noor

Paco Morales: The Return of Andalusian Cuisine

Historical and culinary research are the basis of the cuisine at Noor, the restaurant where Paco Morales reinvents the recipes of his native Córdoba during the era of Arab rule using contemporary techniques.

Paco MoralesOriginal Source: Restaurante Noor

Paco Morales learned the basics of traditional cookery while helping his parents at Nati, their diner in his home town of Córdoba. He immersed himself in the avant-garde at Mugaritz, spent a brief period at elBulli, and left his culinary mark on various restaurants in Madrid, Valencia, and Menorca.

In 2016 he opened Noor, where he recreates the cuisine of Al-Andalus, the part of the southern Iberian Peninsula that was under Muslim rule between the 8th and 15th centuries.

Morales astounds his guests with dishes that are not just thrown together, but are the result of studying the ingredients and techniques that were used in cookery during that period, as well as long sessions in the restaurant's research and development department.

"Karim" pistachio creamOriginal Source: Restaurante Noor

"Karim" pistachio cream, apple with desert spices, bottarga, and fresh oregano.

Now the restaurant's signature dish, the first version of this cream was made with pine nuts. The current version is made with pistachios. "The nuances of the bottarga add a saltiness to the dish, and clove dominates the green apple with desert spices."

Morales took the 10th century as a starting point for the research into and production of his culinary offerings. He presents his creations on dishes and plates with Moorish designs on them, which are made by Cordoban artisans.

David MuñozOriginal Source: Restaurante DiverXo

David Muñoz: The Rebel Genius

This Madrid-born chef has revolutionized contemporary Spanish cuisine with his sensational, rule-breaking creations which are served at DiverXO not on plates, but on canvases.

David MuñozOriginal Source: Restaurante DiverXo

David Muñoz—or "Dabiz," as he prefers to spell it—fell in love with cooking at Viridiana, Abraham García's restaurant in Madrid, where he used to go with his parents as a child and later did work experience as a teenager.

It was while working in London that he discovered international cuisine, the influence of which—in particular the food of Southeast Asia—is a running theme in his dishes.

In 2007 he opened DiverXO in Madrid, and since then he has continued to amaze with dishes that are sheer explosions of color, flavor, and textures which pull the guest into a unique, dazzling gastronomic game that's both dreamlike and theatrical.

Spider crab: Galician sea spider and spicy tomatoOriginal Source: Restaurante DiverXo

Spider crab: Galician sea spider and spicy tomato.

At DiverXO, the canvases on which these culinary creations are presented evolve and vary depending not only on what a guest has ordered, but also on the advice of the front-of-house team, working with the team in the kitchen.

The canvas "Spider crab: Galician sea spider and spicy tomato. 'French tradition' with goats' butter, 'bienmesabe,' and black olive" consists of a spider crab with a hollandaise sauce based on goats' milk butter, along with the ingredients in the dish's name.

Carme RuscalledaOriginal Source: Restaurante Sant Pau

Carme Ruscalleda: The Creative Evolution of Catalan Cuisine

Thirty years ago, Ruscalleda put Sant Pol de Mar, a small seaside town in the province of Barcelona, on the map of international gastronomy. Sant Pol de Mar is the town where Ruscalleda was born, and was the home to the restaurant Sant Pau.

Carme RuscalledaOriginal Source: Restaurante Sant Pau

Carme Ruscalleda started out making dishes to take away in the family delicatessen. In 1998 she and her husband opened Sant Pau, a small restaurant which slowly began to make a name for itself in gastronomic circles.

Self-taught as a chef, her cuisine is loosely based on Catalan culinary culture, mainly using local produce from the Maresme region.

Although she has just closed down the restaurant for "reinvention," far from retiring she will remain active in her other professional commitments, such as Sant Pau in Tokyo.

"Astro Rey" (King of the Skies)Original Source: Restaurante Sant Pau

King of the Skies.

"Suquet is a really interesting seafood stew, which can be made with any type of fish or seafood. I love this technique because the produce deserves to be treated with respect and because it forms part of my lifelong memories of food."

"Throughout Sant Pau's history we have made thousands of suquets: we've used prawns, sardines, monkfish, and scorpion fish. One of our most recent versions is with lobster: the dish features on the menu "Inspired by the Universe" menu and is called "Astro Rey" (King of the Skies)."

Pedro SubijanaOriginal Source: Restaurante Akelarre

Pedro Subijana: Pioneer of Tradition-Based Innovation

From his restaurant Akelarre, Subijana—together with Juan Mari Arzak—was at the forefront of the New Basque Cuisine movement in the mid-70s. Forty years on, he's still coming up with astonishing creations based on traditional Basque recipes.

Pedro SubijanaOriginal Source: Restaurante Akelarre

Having taken his first steps as a professional in the Basque Country, Navarre, and Madrid, in 1975 Pedro Subijana arrived at Madrid's Akelarre restaurant, of which he is now the owner.

In his kitchen overlooking the Cantabrian Sea, Subijana and his team continue to research, create, and innovate. His signature style is deeply rooted in a natural, authentic, and native cooking style with the rich flavor of the sea.

His burning creativity is based on outstanding raw ingredients that shine through his dishes, which are the result of his refined technique and are strikingly presented. "I can be happy but never satisfied," is his motto.

A proponent of academic training, he was the driving force behind the Basque Culinary Center, an institution located in San Sebastian.

Gin and Tonic DessertOriginal Source: Restaurante Akelarre

Gin and tonic dessert.

"Desserts have always been very important at Akelarre. And this gin and tonic dessert is one that has been on the menu the longest: since 1998."

To turn the popular drink into a dessert, they solidified a gin and tonic using gelatine, and added juniper sauce (juniper being the main aroma in gin), lemon sorbet, and lemon peel.

"In transforming the drink into a dessert, we wanted to break up the sweetness of the jelly with a few pieces of caramelized sugar, finishing with another aromatic touch: lemon thyme."

Essence of BeetrootOriginal Source: Restaurante El Invernadero

Cuisine Without Limits

This is just a small sample of the wealth of haute cuisine in Spain today.

The path to freedom forged by Ferran Adrià, in combination with a respect for tradition, has opened up a world without limits which allows chefs to shine and to express their talent in their own individual ways.

Credits: Story

Text: María García.

Image: Noor Restaurant / Mugaritz Restaurant / Aponiente Restaurant / Azurmendi Restaurant / ElBarri / Akelarre Restaurant / Berasategui Restaurant / DiverXo / Sant Pau Restaurant / El Invernadero Restaurant / Extebarri Restaurant / DSTAgE Restaurant / Quique Da Costa Restaurant.

Acknowledgements: Rafael Ansón, president of the Spanish Royal Academy of Gastronomy; Elena Rodríguez, director of the Spanish Royal Academy of Gastronomy; María García and Caroline Verhille, contributors to the Spanish Royal Academy of Gastronomy.

Spanish Royal Academy of Gastronomy

This exhibition is part of the Spanish Gastronomy project jointly coordinated by Google Arts & Culture and the Spanish Royal Academy of Gastronomy.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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