Spanish chefs - Martin Berasategui

by Neil Morris- 01 June 2012

cien y picoThe career of Martin Berasategui - the Spanish chef with more Michelin stars (seven) than any other - really took off at the age of 33 when, along with his wife,  Oneka Arregui, he opened his restaurant in Lasarte-Oria, 7 km from San Sebastian.

His training as a cook and much of his early life experience took place at the restaurant el Bodegón Alejandro in San Sebastian, where he won his first Michelin star in 1986. The restaurant was originally run by his father and Martin recalls the memories from those early days: “I was born in 1960, between the fishing port and the market,” he reflects. “As a child I saw the fish come in carts pulled by mules and they sold eggs, milk, mushrooms and vegetables at our door. My childhood was spent around the market.”

He has many fond memories of his father, now deceased, as a determined figure: “he was like me, straight and generous and believed in team work, something that I was able to instil”. These memories were recounted when he received the Tambor de oro award in 2005; an emotional Berasategui thanked publicly his mother and Aunt and poured boundless praise on the memory of his father. He was the only one of four children to follow his father footsteps into the kitchen.

Apio-helado-con-aguardiente

After the experiences in his father’s kitchen, the inspired young chef travelled to France to train and gain experience. During this time he worked with many great French chefs including Jean Paul Heinard, André Mandion Anglet, Bernard Lacarrau and his greatest influence of all Didier Oudil. “Cooking is a profession where you have to start young because experience is essential,” explains Martin. “To reach your goals you need to be happy, you have to convey joy. A cook expresses feelings through their palate.”

El-plato-de-manzana-y-tuberculos

In 1993, after overcoming many difficulties, the restaurant Martin Berasategui opened in Lasarte. This was a risky move but one that paid off after the restaurant was awarded it's first Michelin star after just six months; the second came just three years later and the third in 2001.

Armed with an international reputation for culinary excellence, he displayed his skills as an entrepreneur after founding the Martin Berasategui Group in 1996. The group deployed the Chefs finest disciples to manage several top restaurants in Spain resulting in yet more Michelin stars.

bombon-de-queso

The ambitious chef  is still involved in many restaurant projects including restaurant MB at Hotel Abama in Southern Tenerife (1 star) and the restaurants Lasarte (2 stars) and Loidi, both at the Hotel Condes de Barcelona. In 2009 he opened the first restaurant run by a three star chef in China; the restaurant Martin in Shanghai. In 2010 he opened restaurant Santo by Martin Berasategui at the Eme cathedral Hotel in Seville (1 star).

His latest projects include restaurant Doma in Bilbao, two restaurants in Mexico and two more in the Dominican Republic. He continues to create new generations of great Chefs and “lets them fly,” by running his restaurants. “To run a three star restaurant like mine, it takes leadership, discipline and desire to communicate with people. You have to make those around you feel important. Nothing is achieved without control. I demand it and give you everything I can in exchange”

jugo-de-vaina-con-foie

Those who know him describe him a simple man who expresses himself through his dishes. He describes his cooking style with the eloquence of an artist; “My style is a reflection of my palate, my sensibility and many small dreams. First I imagine how I want a plate to look and then I seek the system to achieve this. A cook should assume that an important part of your job is to think. The creation of a dish starts in the head.”

Despite his countless awards and formidable reputation he remains a humble and generous man who enjoys nothing more than sharing his passion and knowledge for cooking.

Website: www.martinberasategui.com

Twitter: Berasategui

Facebook: Martin-Berasategui

Buy books: Martin Berasategui (UK)

Buy books: Martin Berasategui (US)

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