With eight stars from Michelin and renewed recognition by the users of TripAdvisor as the best restaurant in the world, Europe, and Spain, it seems the sky is the limit to Martín Berasategui’s achievements in the culinary world.
MyChef compact ovens provide us with great performance in small space, and at a truly competitive price.
With eight stars from Michelin and renewed recognition by the users of TripAdvisor as the best restaurant in the world, Europe, and Spain, it seems the sky is the limit to Martín Berasategui’s achievements in the culinary world. Behind the scenes, however, there is a tireless and dedicated worker with his feet firmly planted on the ground: a chef who never forgets his surroundings and where he came from. His team, “one big family where all of us work like crazy,” and the new technologies he uses, such as the MyChef compact oven found in all his kitchens, are keys to his unstoppable success, as the chef himself reveals in this interview held not long ago in his home in Lasarte.
With 8 stars from Michelin, you have arrived at the top in the the world of gastronomy. Do you still enjoy being in the kitchen, or does having to manage so many restaurants end up “devouring” the chef?
Management and planning are some of the most important parts of any business. And having a great human and technology team makes any task a lot easier. And so, those of us who enjoy working can keep experiencing work as pleasure.
In my case, I first learned rigor and discipline from pastry chefs, and was able to carry that over into general cuisine. There is no doubt in my mind that in my restaurants, every dish on the menu must be equally perfect. If they can’t be prepared over and over again with complete assurance, they are worthless to me.
Martín Berasategui is always on the move, but at the same time he is firmly rooted in Lasarte, his “home of homes”. How is it possible to coordinate an international restaurant group without being physically present at every location to make sure the level remains high?
I firmly believe in the success that comes from teamwork. The fact is that I have always had the good fortune to be surrounded by truly impressive people. It is clear to me that Martín Berasategui is not just one person, but rather a great family where we all work our hearts out and all are equally important.
And of course, to maintain a high level, we make use of new technologies. These are absolutely essential, since they provide assurance that what ends up on the diner’s plate will be of uniformly high quality. Consistency is key in my kitchen.
What does it take nowadays to be a haute cuisine restaurant?
More than anything, a haute cuisine restaurant must be profitable. I think this is the greatest challenge for any establishment that uses so much manpower and such a variety of ingredients. And to achieve this, you must constantly reinvent yourself, think clearly, use your ingenuity and come up with new formulas. Whatever you create must be perfect, so that every customer leaves the restaurant satisfied. That’s why rigor, discipline and high expectations are not enough: technology and new equipment are also important.
What does new cooking technology, such as the latest generation of ovens, mean for a restaurant such as Martín Berasategui?
They absolutely represent great progress and change. In their time, convection steamers were an amazing advance, but now, with MyChef, Distform compact ovens, we can achieve very high performance in a very small space, and at a truly competitive price.
The most important thing for us is to be able to get the exact temperatures that we want, especially with low-temperature cooking. Until now we had to mix products in the oven at the same temperature, but now, with the MyChef gastronomy station, by combining several ovens we can steam at low temperature and sear at high temperature simultaneously, which allows us to manage the whole process much more effectively. These ovens are a true marvel and we use them for everything.
One of the big advantages of the MyChef oven is its great precision for low-temperature cooking. Would you say that this is an example of how new technologies can contribute in this area, even improving flavor and the overall product as a whole?
No doubt about it. We have proved that every product reacts differently to different temperatures. The MyChef ovens are the only ones that, thanks to the TSC (Thermal Stability Control) patent, cook at low temperatures with unparalleled temperature stability inside the chamber (accuracy of ±0.2ºC).
Compact ovens are gaining great popularity in a lot of restaurants. To what would you attribute this trend? Could we say that “small” is the new “big”?
The most important thing about an oven is its versatility, because you have to be able to take full advantage of it and of the space that it occupies. In today’s restaurants space is at a premium, and kitchens, unfortunately, are not scaled in proper proportion to the capacity of the dining room. That is why we are seeing more and more compact ovens, whether stand-alone or in combination. The MyChef ovens also consume very little electricity, which is very important.
What would you say to a young person who wants to be a chef? What lies ahead of him or her in today’s profession?
To a young cook I would say that he or she has chosen a very lovely, but very difficult, profession. They must enjoy it, that is the most important thing, and they must understand that they are a bringer of joy. We cooks are part of the feast, but we are hidden away in the kitchen. We were born to make people smile with our work.
As a “bringer of joy”, can gastronomy help to change society?
It used to be that when you said you wanted to be a cook, you were likely to disappoint your family. And now they say that we have changed the course of cooking. If people have come to the conclusion that our contribution increases their welfare or happiness in some way, that is a great honor. If the diner in my restaurant is happy with what I offer, then my team and I are also happy. But I clearly understand that the cook is a cook, nothing more and nothing less.
When it comes to society, our cuisine has it roots in our land, in its products and in its small-scale producers. A cuisine has the duty to adapt to its surroundings, care for them and defend them, and that is a very important role.
To whom or to what would you say “garrote”, your battle cry?
“Garrote” means punch, energy, strength. We are in a country where 98% of the negative things that they say are going to happen, in fact never happen. “Garrote” means always seeing the positive side of things, seeing the glass half full and not giving in to fear, laziness, or shame when it comes to working hard and doing a lot of things that we do very, very well in this country. And so I say, “garrote” to all!!
A haute cuisine restaurant must be profitable. And to achieve this, you must constantly reinvent yourself, think clearly, use your ingenuity and come up with new formulas. That’s why, rigor, discipline and high expectations are not enough: technology and new equipment are also important.
In today’s restaurants, space is at a real premium and kitchens are not scaled in proportion to the capacity of the dining room, and so we are seeing more and more compact ovens, either stand-alone or in combination. With the MyChef gastronomy station, by combining several ovens we can steam at low temperature and sear at high temperature simultaneously, allowing us to provide much better service.
Restaurant y Catering
Mychef COMPACT oven
Martín Berasategui is the Spanish chef with the greatest number of Michelin stars: three for his “flagship” restaurant in Lasarte