‘We wanted to reach the point where we could delve deeper into the mind of the leading figures of contemporary cuisine. And at the same time, we wanted to enhance the educational side of the publishing house,’ says Jãvi Antoja de la Rosa, director of Apicius and of Montagud Editores’ publishing projects. Thus, the twenty-ninth issue of our journal of haute cuisine comes filled with innovations in both form and content. A more complete Apicius than ever, thanks to its 240 pages, 62 recipes, 367 preparations, 93 illustrated, step-by-step processes; 41,000 words and 853 photographs.
Apicius 29 will be published next November.
Joan Roca (El Celler de Can Roca***, Girona)
Joan Roca i Fontané was born in February 1964. He is, as the team at El Celler de Can Roca explains, ‘the son of Josep Roca, bus driver, and Montserrat Fontané, cook at Lloret restaurant’. At the age of three, he witnessed an event that would turn out to be crucial for the future of world gastronomy: his parents opened Can Roca, a bar in the Taialà-Germans Sàbat neighbourhood of Girona. It was in adjacent premises in 1986 that Joan and his brother Josep ‘opened the shutters’ of El Celler de Can Roca – Jordi Roca, the youngest of the brothers, would join them eleven years later. What they couldn’t have known then was that they had written the opening lines of an essential chapter in culinary history. At the time, a young Joan, who had barely entered into his third decade of existence, had just finished his basic studies at the Catering College of Girona, as part of the first group of students to complete the full course in this Catalonian city. He had not yet gone to elBulli – this would come three years later, in 1989 – but he had already come into contact with Basque cuisine. The result of this was the dish he created for his new restaurant: Hake with garlic and rosemary vinaigrette. More than thirty years later and always in the company of his two brothers, Joan Roca is still going strong in charge of savoury cuisine at El Celler de Can Roca. One step at a time, he continues to aspire to excellence – if there is still anywhere left to go – exuding wisdom and never losing his ability to surprise.
Eneko Atxa (Azurmendi***, Larrabetzu)
‘I opened in 2005, and I’ve never been closed since.’ Through these words – part of an interview in which Eneko Atxa reveals his management secrets to Apicius.es – the chef exemplifies one of his qualities to perfection. Above all, what he does is hard and conscientious work. And he does it with his family as his bastion, with his land as his banner and excellence as his coat of arms. Born in the town of Amorebieta, Biscay, in 1977, Eneko Atxa studied at the Leioa Catering College. Not yet thirty, his CV was already dizzying. It included some of the best restaurants in the Basque Country – with Martín Berasategui’s flagship, the three Michelin-starred establishment in Lasarte, among them. It was at that age when he opened Azurmendi, which shared and continues to share its location in a complex with Gorka Izagirre winery. After that, it could be said that success came year after year for Eneko Atxa’s Azurmendi. In 2006, just one year after opening, the restaurant received the Q, a brand created by the Spanish Secretary of State for Tourism to acknowledge quality in hospitality establishments. In 2007, the restaurant was awarded its first Michelin star. The second would come in 2010, and the third in 2012. With all of this, Eneko Atxa continues to work in the kitchen while his culinary universe expands around the world. In addition to Eneko Jatexea, which is located in the same complex, he has a restaurant in London and another in Tokyo. Always with his characteristic modesty, he seeks to give back everything that he has received as an individual on a universal level.
Dabiz Muñoz (DiverXO***, Madrid)
Thirty-seven years of age, a mohawk, spouting profanities, and a cuisine that leaves nobody indifferent. We are speaking about David, ‘Dabiz’, the chef – or ‘xef’ – who has delighted palates as varied as they are demanding, who has taken his singular ‘gastronomic event’ to London’s Mayfair district, who has flaunted his dramas on television… and who has brought three Michelin stars back to Madrid, after nearly twenty years without there being any establishment in the city with the Red Guide’s highest distinction. Born in 1980 in the Madrid neighbourhood of La Elipa, Dabiz has always championed the city of his birth. His efforts saw their just rewards in 2014, when the regional government of Madrid awarded the chef the Cross of the Order of the Second of May, the highest honour it can give. This is by no means the only accolade he has won in the ten years that have passed since he opened the doors of his first establishment, DiverXO. In addition to the three Michelin stars for his flagship project, Muñoz was named Chef de l’Avenir by the International Academy of Gastronomy, Upcoming Chef by Madrid Fusion, and person of the year – for more than one year – by different specialist publications… Despite all this, he is still wired and on fire, with a seamless obsession that he is able to channel and which he accompanies with large doses of talent.
Andoni Luis Aduriz (Mugaritz**, Rentería)
Andoni Luis Aduriz (San Sebastian, 1971) celebrates the twentieth season of Mugaritz the best way he knows: working, investigating and reflecting. His goal is to break with convention and his only intention is to offer something more to everyone who crosses the threshold of his home. The use of the word ‘home’ is not fortuitous, or trivial… To quote Andoni’s own words, Mugaritz is ‘much more’ than a restaurant. The two Michelin stars that he has kept for more than a decade, or being among the top-ranking restaurants in the world – a place that Mugaritz has held for years – may give something of an idea of the work done by Andoni Luis Aduriz. But his project goes much further than that. With more than 15,000 hours dedicated to R&D projects and more than 3,000 hours devoted to selecting ingredients, the chef and his team bring to life between 100 and 120 new offerings each year. These are enjoyed by thousands of people – more specifically, 13,500 in 2016 alone. Their experience is forged by 70 people representing 19 different nationalities. In addition, the chef and his team often collaborate with a wide range of experts. In addition to scientists, this group also contains artists, engineers and philosophers. All of these are the tools with which the chef makes great strides along the brilliant but difficult road to the avant-garde. He knows it is not easy… but he embraces it. ‘When you choose to go cross country, and not by the established road, it’s much more painful, but it’s worth it’ he asserts.
Diego Guerrero (DSTAgE**, Madrid)
When Diego Guerrero (1975) finished his secondary schooling and had to decide which path to take, he decided on cooking. ‘I wanted to express things,’ he has explained on more than one occasion. Since then, he has succeeded in combining talent, perfectionism and intuitive common sense. He has had them at a simmer since he began to work with Martín Berasategui and at Goizeko Kabi, among others. They led him, for instance, to become the head chef at El Refor restaurant at the age of only twenty-three, and to earn and retain two Michelin stars for two years in a place as difficult as Madrid. And as if that were not enough, he has just passed another milestone: opening the doors of a restaurant that is so much more and, in only three years, allowing it to boast of another two stars in the Red Guide, while also turning it into one of the industry’s undisputable leaders. We are speaking of DSTAgE. The actual name of the establishment – an acrostic that plays of the words Days to Smell, Taste, Amaze, grow & Enjoy – is his statement of intent. And if there is anything that has made his restaurant cause a stir, it is the fact that he works to bring enjoyment to everyone that enters his door, with naturalness as his standard and a concept of luxury that breaks the mould..
‘I wasn’t born a chef, ’Ángel León (1977) states on his Twitter profile. Nor is it necessary. Over the years, he has cooked the sealike nobody else, and by voyaging ever further from the shore, he has turned the marine environment into a line of work andresearch. The discovery of marine plankton as a unique and unparalleled food source, and converting the light from the seainto something edible, are only two of the many examples of what, if anything, typifies this chef, innovation. He may not havebeen born a chef, but he has spent many years now in the kitchen. León, who studied cooking in Seville, departed early in hiscareer for France to work in a restaurant in Bordeaux. He then went on to join the team at El Faro del Puerto under FernandoCórdoba. After another season in Toledo, he returned to the Andalusia of his birth to open Aponiente in El Puerto de SantaMaría. The first of the restaurant’s two Michelin stars came two years later. Ángel is currently celebrating the tenth anniversaryof an Aponiente that ranges the sea from its magical setting: the El Caño tide mill. The building and facilities, dating from the19th century and located in the midst of a natural setting, had been abandoned and are now gradually being restored at thechef’s undertaking. What he feels for his land is, in fact, a sincere and deep devotion that he demonstrates whenever he can,which was a reason for his being awarded the Medal of Andalusia in 2014.