Despite concerns about voting transparency, sexism, and geographic biases, the recently released 50 Best Restaurants List for 2015 was good news for Spain and Spanish chefs.
Girona’s Celler de Can Roca was named best restaurant in the world (again) and chef Andoni Luis Aduriz’s Mugaritz in San Sebastian kept it company in the top ten. There are five Spanish restaurants in the list’s top 20, seven in the top 50, and ten in the top 100.
Spain leapt to the international foodie forefront over a decade ago with deconstructed and so-called molecular cuisine, but locals see deeper roots feeding the country’s current crop of celebrated chefs. José Carlos Capel, food critic for the Spanish newspaper El Pais, has witnessed the ascent of Spanish and Hispanic chefs as they slowly edge out their French counterparts on the global stage.
“But 50 is a tiny, tiny number when talking about the whole world,” he cautioned. “In Spain, you have the alta cocina celebrated on this list,” referring to the refined, adventurous cuisine pioneered by chefs like Juan Mari Arzak (ranked #17). “But there have always been truly excellent restaurants serving traditional cooking with one inspiring the other, raising the bar for everyone.”
While reluctant to make too many predictions for 2016, Capel foresees a rapid rise for David Muñoz’s Diverxo (currently ranked #59 and perhaps the most coveted reservation in the Spanish capital at the moment), as well as Martín Berasategui eponymous restaurant (#61) and Albert Adrià’s Tickets (#42), both in Barcelona.
But the up-and-comers he recommends are the ones to visit now, before they take off even more. These include Carme Ruscalleda’s Sant Pau in Sant Pol de Mar north of Barcelona, Ricard Camarena (pictured) in Valencia, chef Angel León’s restaurant Aponiente in Puerto de Santa Maria in Cadíz, and Javier Olleros’ Culler de Pau near Pontevedra in the northwest region of Galicia. A visit to each would take ambitious gastronomes to all four corners of Spain.
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