Signature Dishes - 1

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.

Albert AdriàOriginal Source: Restaurante elBarri

Albert Adrià: Beyond the Legacy of elBulli

Since 2011, Ferran Adrià's brother has been involved with elBarri, a gastronomic project in Barcelona through which he has revealed an astonishing level of culinary versatility.

Albert AdriàOriginal Source: Restaurante elBarri

At 15, Albert Adrià started working at elBulli, where his brother Ferran was head chef at the time. First he specialized in desserts, later taking over the management of elBulli Taller (the workshop). He left the restaurant 3 years before it closed.

It was then that Albert came up with the idea for elBarri, a global gastronomy project in Barcelona comprising 2 Mexican restaurants—Hoja Santa and Niño Viejo—and one Peruvian one, Pakta. It also includes Bodega 1900, which serves updated versions of traditional recipes. Alongside all of this are culinary stars Tickets and Enigma, dedicated to contemporary haute cuisine—the former in the form of tapas and the latter an amazing, intimate gastronomic experience.

In all of them, Adrià displays a talent and a culinary versatility that is reflected in dishes that show a dazzling creativity in all of their formats.

Avocado and coriander jelly stuffed with sea bass and chipotle mayonnaiseOriginal Source: Restaurante elBarri

Bundle of avocado with cilantro jello, stuffed with crab and chipotle mayonnaise.

An elBulli classic, reinvented at Tickets. "At elBulli, we used to make avocado cannelloni with baby sweetcorn but it was hardly ever on the menu because we didn't know how to stop the avocado from browning."

"It was on a visit to José Andrés' restaurant, Bazaar, that we found the solution, and we immediately made our version of the famous avocado cannelloni and crab which, years later, became this complicated lattice of avocado and crab on a base of crispy chicken skin."

Andoni Luis AdurizOriginal Source: Restaurante Mugaritz

Andoni Luis Aduriz: Groundbreaking Cuisine

Andoni Luis Aduritz's culinary offerings at Mugaritz invite guests to discover and explore the unknown through a series of breathtaking dishes.

Andoni Luis AdurizOriginal Source: Restaurante Mugaritz

In the 1990s, Andoni Luis Aduriz worked in the restaurants of the big names in New Basque Cuisine and at elBulli. In 1998 he opened Mugaritz, 6 miles from San Sebastian, set among hundred-year-old oaks. There, he and his team come up with daring creations to astound their guests.

To do this, they challenge "the logic of the culinary world, rethinking social norms and preconceptions."

The aim is to create "a context in which to exercise sensory freedom in order to overcome the imposition of tradition; to discover the flavor of histories, the importance of textures; to defy taboos, to reengage with the most basic habits."

Dried Hydrangea of CocoaOriginal Source: Restaurante Mugaritz

Dried hydrangea of cocoa.

This dish is the end product of a research process in which Mugaritz teamed up with the world of science, driven by Andoni Luis Aduriz's team's obsession with "lightness or airy exuberance." The challenge was to create the largest bubbles possible.

In order to do this, they worked with physicists who helped them to adapt the idea of producing the bubbles with the machines that create bubbles in aquariums.

One decade, several bubbles of all different kinds (chocolate, honey, beetroot, etc.), and one scientific article later, they managed to set the bubbles to make them stable, and freeze-dry them to create the delicious, delicate "dried hydrangea of cocoa."

Bittor ArginzonizOriginal Source: Restaurante Asador Etxebarri

Bittor Arginzoniz: The Magic of Flame Grilling

In his restaurant Etxebarri, Arginzoniz explores the infinite possibilities of cooking on a grill, on which he cooks the highest quality seasonal raw ingredients. Self-taught as a chef, he has designed ingenious grills in order to flame cook a variety of ingredients to best bring out their natural flavors.

Bittor ArginzonizOriginal Source: Restaurante Asador Etxebarri

Bittor Arginzoniz opened Etxebarri (in Atxondo, Biscay) in 1990, where he took on the role of head waiter, not yet knowing how to cook.

In 1998 he put a charcoal barbecue outside the restaurant where he cooked some chops that were a great success. That sowed the seed for the restaurant Etxebarri which, 20 years later, would be highly acclaimed in international guides and listings.

Over the years, Arginzoniz has substituted charcoal for different types of wood, updated the kitchen to make room for brick ovens, and has not stopped searching for the best raw ingredients to be cooked on the grill.

He grows vegetables in his garden and believes in using local produce, although if he believes that best ingredients can't be found locally, he will source them from outside of the Basque Country, such as Palamós red prawns or Galician meat.

Grilled EelsOriginal Source: Restaurante Asador Etxebarri

Grilled eels.

The eels that are served at Etxebarri mainly come from the Basque coast. Bittor installed his own fish hatchery to ensure a supply of them all year round.

He cooks them on the grill, in a mesh pan, which ensures that they retain their smooth texture and their flavor of the sea.

Eneko AtxaOriginal Source: Restaurante Azurmendi

Eneko Atxa: Cuisine Rooted in the Earth

At Azurmendi, Atxa's work is based on his knowledge of traditional Basque cookery, and the bond that he feels with his land and its products. He creates dishes in which texture, flavor, and aesthetics go hand in hand.

Eneko AtxaOriginal Source: Restaurante Azurmendi

Eneko Atxa isn't from a family of chefs, but food was always extremely important to them.

In 2005 he opened Azurmendi (in Larrabetzu, in the province of Biscay), a sustainable architectural project in which renewable energy, reusing rainwater, and growing some of the vegetables used in their cooking are key elements.

Its cuisine is the perfect combination of flavor, texture, and aesthetics, firmly rooted in traditional dishes. Home cooking, stews, and his own roots are evident in every dish as the solid foundation on which he builds textures and creates the finished product.

Lemon GrassOriginal Source: Restaurante Azurmendi

Lemon Grass.

"British pirates entered Spain on the coast of Bakio; they looted the town and the neighboring towns and took all the lemons to prevent scurvy on the rest of their voyage. It's for this reason, among others, that the Bakio lemon is on the verge of disappearing."

In a bid to recover and pay tribute to the lemon, at Azurmendi they have come up with lemon grass: a scooped out lemon shell is filled with homemade foie gras from local birds and covered with a layer of lemongrass. The dish is decorated with different flowers from the restaurant's garden.

Martín BerasateguiOriginal Source: Restaurante Martín Berasategui

Martín Berasategui

Considered one of the leading lights of contemporary Basque cuisine, the impeccable career of the maestro Berasategui is founded on his technical and aesthetic command of cuisine, respect for the produce, and a commitment to flavor. His cuisine is constantly forward-looking.

Martín BerasateguiOriginal Source: Restaurante Martín Berasategui

Trained in the family restaurant, Bodegón Alejandro in San Sebastian, Berasategui spent his days off traveling to France, soaking up the gastronomy of the neighboring country. It was here that he took various courses in modern patisserie. At 33 years of age, he opened the restaurant that bears his name in Lasarte, Gipuzkoa.

Berasategui describes his cuisine as "complex but familiar, capable of opening up new paths for future generations, with the associated difficulty of getting people to understand that we have to add lots of details to make everything work at the level that we require. It is deeply rooted in my land, in my roots, but open to the world. Ultimately, it is a reflection of what I am."

Truffle with fermented mushrooms and collard greens with "Alma de Jerez" olive oilOriginal Source: Restaurante Martín Berasategui

Truffle with fermented mushrooms and collard greens with "Alma de Jerez" olive oil.

"This dish was created in 2015 thanks to the fact that in recent years we have been able to find excellent quality truffles, cultivated in the north of Spain, which go wonderfully with other local produce."

"It is a false truffle with a powerful flavor, with a black truffle-based jus that evokes the forests of the Basque Country. Every season, the dish takes on a different shade because of the difference in the truffles."

Quique DacostaOriginal Source: Restaurante Quique Dacosta

Quique Dacosta: The Beauty of Flavor

The coast of Denia and its surroundings are the inspiration for Dacosta's creations, in which he creates a very personal universe that ensnares the guest with Mediterranean-inspired shapes, textures, and flavors.

Quique DacostaOriginal Source: Restaurante Quique Dacosta

Originally from Extremadura, Quique Dacosta has adopted the region of Valencia as his own. He began his professional career as a chef in 1986. In 1988, he began working at what is now his restaurant, El Poblet (now called Quique Dacosta Restaurant) in Denia in the province of Valencia.

Dacosta takes his inspiration from the culture and land in which he lives and works. The Mediterranean Sea and the Montgó Natural Park are places that have been fundamental in his cooking, with the endless wealth of the sea and its specific geographical location.

His cuisine has evolved to the rhythm of his profound culinary curiosity, becoming a whirlwind of flavors, textures, emotions, and surprises, with a strong sense of aesthetics.

Slice of Dried TomatoOriginal Source: Restaurante Quique Dacosta

Slice of dried tomato.

This is one of the dishes from the Quique Dacosta Restaurant's 2018 menu: La Evolución y El Origen (Evolution and Origin). Its origins lie in the action of the salt which, together with the air, cures vegetables as well as meat and fish.

The concept for this dish was a taste reminiscent of a slice of Valencian tomato. "We sprinkle dried tomato powder over a smooth cream also made from dried tomato, evoking a thick "salmorejo" soup on a kind of crunchy biscuit. The drops are a reduction of rice vinegar, like dew drops on a fresh tomato."

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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