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Catalan Chefs | EatCatalunya: All about Catalan Cuisine
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Catalan Chefs

Ferrán Adrià
Considered by many to be a genius, Ferrán Adrià boasts the title of Spain’s best chef and possibly one of the best in the world. Adrià was born 42 years ago in the humble Barcelona suburb of L´Hospitalet del Llobregat. Today he is called the “Culinary Alquimist” because of his innate innovation. Time magazine called him 100 most innovative people in the world.

Ferran Adrià is more than a chef: he is a culinary artist and author of new techniques such as “deconstruction”. His inspirations were the geniuses of nouvelle cuisine like Michel Guirard, Alain and Jacques Maximin in France and in Spain Juan Mari Arzak.

Adrià’s main laboratory is his restaurant, the famed El Bulli — called the number one restaurant in the world — located in Roses, Girona (map). This restaurant is distinguished with a three-star rating from Michelin and is open only 7 months out of the year, which means it is quite difficult to get a table. El Bulli’s cuisine is made exclusively with products that are in season, and are created using new cooking techniques. Adrià is the creator of truly innovative tastes and textures, as well an artist at mixing savory and sweet, raw and cooked, hot and cold.

Among Adrià’s “futurist” creations are paella ice cream, hot gelatins and indescribable foams, all of which must be eaten or drank in a certain way. The result is the unexpected and it is impossible to leave El Bulli without having been surprised.

Ferrán’s business partner, Juli Soler, shares in the management of El Bulli as well as other projects such as El Bulli Catering and his new quality fast food chain, Fast-Good.

He is also author of these cookbooks:

El Bulli 1983-1993 (with Juli Soler and Albert Adrià),
El Bulli: The Flavor of the Mediterranean, 1993.
The Secrets of El Bulli, 1997.
El Bulli 1994-1997 (with Juli Soler and Albert Adrià).
Cooking in Ten Minutes with Ferrán Adrià, 1998.
Celebrating the Millenium with Arzak and Adrià (con Juan Mari Arzak), 1999.
El Bulli 1998-2002 (with Juli Soler and Albert Adrià).
El Bulli 2003-2004
(with Juli Soler and Albert Adrià).

Santi Santamaría
If one thing defined Santi Santamaría‘s cuisine it was his staunch adherence to tradition. Like most Catalan chefs he combined sea and land, products that come from the Mediterranean coast and those from inland locales, in this case from Montseny, Catalunya (map). His cooking — in traditional Catalan style — was simple yet sophisticated, and dominated by his respect for the seasonality of food.

Santamaría paid meticulous attention to the creation of flavors. In 1981 he opened the restaurant that has since made him famous — El Racó de Can Fabes — with his wife Angels Serra. The restaurant was an old country house the Santamarías gave a modern touch. One of the most famous contemporary Catalan painters, Antoni Tapies, shows his art on the walls of Racó de Can Fabes as well as on its menu. Many would say that just that is reason enough to visit.

The menu at Can Fabes varies depending on the season and which products are best in the farms of Montseny at the time. In summer, one can enjoy offerings like the cauliflower yogurt with smoked cod caviar, melon with ox hocks or Arenys Roma tomatoes with apricot and smoked eel. Racó also has an impressive selection of Catalan cheeses.

This famous restaurant in Can Fabes boasts three Michelin stars and was the first Catalan restaurant to receive this distinction. Santi Santamaria was President of Relais Gourmand and the international Vice President of Relais & Châteaux. Sadly, Chef Santamaria Santamaria died of a heart attack on February 16th, 2011 in his restaurant in Marina Bay Sands, Singapore.

Carme Ruscalleda
Carme Ruscalleda is one of the few women in Catalan haute cuisine, a world dominated by men. In her hometown of Sant Pol de Mar (map), Ruscalleda presides over (along with her husband Toni Balam) one of the world’s best restaurants, Sant Pau. The restaurant, surrounded by an impeccable garden and with breathtaking Mediterranean views, was an old feudal estate, was recently awarded three Michelin stars. Sant Pau seats a mere 35 guests.

Ruscalleda is a perfectionist with amazing technique, combining Mediterrean coast ingredients with others from the Maresme region. One of her most famous dishes is the Arroz Caldoso con gambas (Soupy rice with shrimp), a dish made with rice and seafood or fish, and cooking liquid such as fish broth. The menu offerings include king prawns, scalded shrimp tails and lobster sautée. Sant Pau also offers a tasting menu and “micro menus” which include a variety of local cheeses.

In 2004, Ruscalleda opened the doors of an exact replica of her Sant Pol restaurant in Tokyo, where she maintains the same atmosphere and tecnique as at Sant Pau. The Tokyo restaurant is led by chef Sandra Martorell.