Ibiza Foodie interviews Martín Berasategui
How would you define your cooking style?
I usually say that my kitchen is complex and at the same time close, capable of opening new roads for the next generations, with the difficulties that entails that people understand that we have to join many details to make everything work at the level that we demand it. The product and the suppliers are a fundamental part of the gear needed to make avant-garde cuisine. My kitchen is also very attached to my land and my roots, but open to the world. That is undoubted.
How did you start cooking? Was it your dream since childhood?
I was born in General Echagüe Street, next to the Old Part of Donostia, but the truth is that we almost never stopped at home. My parents and my aunt ran the Bodegón Alejandro, a popular institution in our city. That’s where we made our lives. As soon as I left school, I used to go to Bodegón, which was divided into two dining rooms, one to the left for everyone, and to the right, separated by a door, another that was for the family and the closest ones. And this is where we were eating, having dinner, that was the epicenter of our lives. We were going home only to sleep and to clean up.
I’m the only one in the house who carries cooking in his blood. I was a nuisance with the preparations in the kitchen. I guess my vacation for cooking has a lot to do with longing for the “Bodegón” that i mentioned earlier. I was attract by the kitchen, but as well by the environment. In my opinion, it all goes together.
How does a day of Martín Berasategui look like?
Mine everyday is very simple. I get up very soon, getting up at the daybreak, I’m going for a walk, I like to do it before each working day, it helps me concentrate. At nine or nine thirty I am already with my kitchen team organizing the work of the day with the chefs of each part, developing new ideas, dispatching many other issues related to my profession that are generated daily. So I do not stop until the last hour of the day, around twelve o’clock or one o’clock in the morning, when we have the kitchen ready and unpolluted for the next day. I have always understood my profession as a work of absolute dedication and passion, there are no more secrets. And on holidays I like to be in my city, with my family and friends. Go for a walk, cook on my own, …
Since you have a successful career, what is your recipe for it?
Work today more than yesterday, tomorrow more than today and in two days more than tomorrow without fear, or laziness, or shame.
And be constant, wanting to improve day by day, but doing things with rigor, seriousness and, if possible, without ups and downs. Over time I’ve realized that irregularity is what causes people not to get what they dream many times. Maintaining a level of excellence requires a very consistent daily work. Apart from the team that surrounds me, without them wouldn’t do anything.
How does it feel to have 8 Michelin stars? Do the Michelin stars change your life?
I feel a huge satisfaction to see my work recognized and also an important responsibility, but a responsibility that motivates me every day to keep improving and reach the level of excellence that we and my teams demand of us.
3 ingredients that can never be missing in your kitchen?
I can think of many, but first of all, Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Second, I focus a lot on the seasonal product, fresh and seasonal product, all kinds of vegetables, legumes, fish, meat, poultry, fruits, … but following the foundations of our kitchen, which is one of the wisest and healthy of the world.
Undoubtedly, that is the pillar of any cuisine worth its salt, the abc of any approach you want to make in the kitchen, either in traditional cuisine or innovative. Just as the great modern kitchen can not be understood without a revision of the traditional one, any kitchen can not be considered if it does not pursue the seasonality of the product.
What do you think about the current boom in the culinary sector in our country (talent shows, contests, books, TV shows, blogs, etc.)
Very positive. Gastronomy is part of the DNA of the personality and culture of our country to the point of having served as one of the most important platforms of the projection in the world and to turn this country into a place of universal reference for lovers of good food. And this is how Spain became a place of pilgrimage and worship for those who find in gastronomy the best expression not only to satisfy the five senses, but as a contribution of the genius of our chefs. They bring together two aspects: permanent innovation and the participation of all those who, day after day, strive in the kitchen to delight us with the best of their know-how. This philosophy is the pillar on which the basis of the training of the chefs was based, which once they started their professional activity became ambassadors of that autochthonous know-how that has become a hallmark of the country in the world.
Do you know the Ibicencan gastronomy?
Luckily, yes. I can only complain that I’ve been there less times than I wish I would be. And those times, I passed it the best way have always felt very welcomed. I really enjoyed it.
Is there an Ibicenco product that stands out for you?
The truth is, that there are many of them… I remember magnificent cheeses, sobrasadas, Ibizan herbs, black butifarrón, longaniza, …
Would you open a restaurant in Ibiza?