5 Spanish chefs you need to know!
Be honest, how many Spanish chefs do you know?
Be honest, how many Spanish chefs do you know?
Try to name as many as you can...it’s not easy, right?
And that’s such a shame! There is a wealth of world-leading talent among the Spanish chef community, with some superbly gifted individuals doing truly amazing things with their chosen artform: delicious food and drink.
So, let’s fix this by spending the next 5 minutes looking at 5 of our favourite Spanish chefs...
1. Chef Carme Ruscalleda
We’ll get straight to the point, Carme Ruscalleda ranks among the most highly decorated chefs in the world. Often described as the ‘First Lady of Food’ for holding more Michelin stars (seven, so far) than any other female chef, Ruscalleda is fiercely fond of reminding us that her gender is irrelevant; “cooking is not a question of seeing which sex is the strongest, but of seeing which chef produces the best quality".
Coming from a family of farmers, and working from a young age with her parents in their grocery store, you could say that Ruscalleda’s destiny to work with food was written in those seven Michelin stars. Her tendency towards traditional Catalan cuisine and seasonal foods may well have been born of those humble beginnings.
Want to see more? Carme Ruscalleda’s books of modern, mouthwatering Mediterranean foods are well worth exploring for ardent foodies, anywhere in the world.
2. Chef Ángel León
Known to Spaniards as El Chef del Mar, or ‘The Chef of the Sea’, the name Ángel León is practically synonymous with a lifelong interest in the nutritional value of seafood. From his discovery that the eyes of fresh fish can be used to create a natural emulsifier, to discovering a powder made from the dehydrated scales of fresh fish can be used to create caviar-like balls, León is not afraid to push at the boundaries of Spanish cuisine.
Although Ángel León’s artistic escapades in the kitchen may seem a little wild at first glance (we’re looking at you, Tuna and Onion Soup Doughnut!), the experiential and experimental nature of his cuisine is supported by accolades of the highest degree. In the award notice for one of his four Michelin stars, the Michelin guide described León as "a true visionary".
3. Chefs Juan Mari & Elena Arzak
Two of the greatest chefs in modern Spanish cuisine, joined by name and by a rich heritage of food, Juan Mari and his daughter Elena are responsible for the family-run Arzak Restaurant. Dating back to 1897, the building that is now their restaurant was originally Juan Mari Arzak’s grandparents' home, further embodying the celebration of family and passing experience down the line.
Another of Juan Mari Arzak’s legacies is his role in pioneering New Basque Cuisine, or Nueva Cocina Vasca, a movement in the late 1970s which ultimately revolutionised the art of cooking in the region. Despite her father’s grand achievements, Elena Arzak has also been able to prove herself as a first-class chef time and time again. In 2012, she was awarded the Veuve Clicquot World's Best Female Chef Award - high praise indeed!
4. Chef María José San Román
María José san Román is perhaps best known for her six restaurants in Alicante, including the must-visit Michelin-star-rated Monastrell. As a highly creative and passionate chef, san Román’s serves showcase with amazing style and grace the best of locally-sourced food and traditional Spanish ingredients - from extra virgin olive oil to seafood and saffron. In fact, it’s san Roman’s celebration of Spain’s signature flavours that has led to her nickname of ‘The Queen of Saffron’.
And what does San Román have to say about olive oils? “For Spaniards, olive oil is a kitchen fundamental. I love the challenge of finding the perfect marriage of olive oil and food.” Mmmm, we couldn’t agree more, and we’d love to see what she could create with our extensive range of premium Spanish olive oils!
5. Chef Martín Berasategui
Last but certainly not least, no list of Spanish superstar chefs would be complete without a mention of Martín Berasategui. Bringing almost five decades of experience to his multi-award-winning kitchens, Berasategui holds more Michelin stars than any other Spanish chef in history - a whopping twelve stars in total. He is the only chef in Spain that owns two restaurants with the full three Michelin stars.
Berasategui has stated his preference towards straightforward and sincere food, with minimal distractions in order to fully appreciate the flavour of his avant-garde Basque Country creations. The three pillars in his approach to cooking can be identified as skilled techniques, hard work, and high quality food products.
Watch this space to see what Martin Berasategui thinks of La Española Olive Oils!
Room for more?
Okay, that was technically six, but hopefully we have been able to expand your horizons when it comes to Spanish chefs...and this is just the tip of the iceberg! There are many more Spanish chefs for you to discover. When you consider how well-loved Spanish cuisine is in the UK, it really is surprising that so many world class chefs go under the radar.
Would you like us to share some more with you? Get in touch to let us know!