/Spain’s best young chefs – and the restaurants where you’ll discover them

Spain’s best young chefs – and the restaurants where you’ll discover them


Every year, a roll-call of up-and-coming chefs compete to become Spain’s Cocinero Revelación (young cook of the year) at the Madrid Fusión gastronomy event. The 2020 shortlist, drawn up by food critics, featured several startup restaurants. Most of their chef-owners have chosen to return to their hometowns in attempt to wow customers with extravagant tasting menus, following experience at Spain’s top restaurants. This year’s winner – the first woman champion in 17 years of the contest – is Camila Ferraro, from Seville. All eight chefs are worth seeking out for high-quality food at (mostly) reasonable prices.
All prices exclude wine

Sobretablas, Seville




Sobretablas restaurant, Spain.


Winning chef Camila Ferraro met sommelier Robert Tetas while working at the illustrious El Celler de Can Roca in Girona (ranked best restaurant in the world on three occasions), before they both moved to Ferraro’s birthplace, Seville.




Camila Ferraro



Camila Ferraro

Sobretablas, in a grand 1929 building south of the old city centre, is their luminous plant-filled restaurant where the 32-year-old chef reinterprets seasonal Andalucían recipes. There is plenty of technique, too, in dishes such as glazed belly of tuna with ajoblanco (cold soup) and fried quinoa (€19), fig salmorejo with smoked eel (€11) or a dessert of cottage cheese with honey and rose petals (€6). Tetas oversees a tantalising list of 160 wines, many from small producers, some natural, including a great choice of sherries.
sobretablasrestaurante.es

Monte San Feliz, near Oviedo, Asturias




Dish on a plate at Restaurant Monte, Asturias, Spain.


The 31-year-old chef, Xune Andrade, who took second place in the competition, has returned to a hamlet near his birthplace in the hills of the Asturias, south of Oviedo. More affordable than its Basque equivalents, Monte San Feliz offers a generous weekend brunch (€23) and tasting menus of €35 and €50 served on tartan tablecloths in a rustic setting. Here, there are foraged mushrooms, wild flowers and herbs, while local hunters contribute hares, partridges, wild boar, venison and trout. À la carte options include aged beef, stuffed onions, meatballs with hazelnuts and apples, and an Asturian cheesecake. Wash it down with the house wine (€16 a bottle) or traditional cider, then chase with a homemade vermouth or herbal liqueur.
montesanfeliz.com

Mu-Na, Ponferrada, León




Dish at Mu-Na, Leon, Spain



Photograph: Javier Cabezas Merino

This informal-yet-stylish restaurant is in the town of Ponferrada, in the Bierzo region of north-western Spain. Run by chef Samuel Naveira, 29, with Génesis Cardona, 27, looking after front of house, Mu-Na’s menu changes monthly, using revamped recipes from this pulse- and beef-rich province of León. The €22 lunch menu includes drinks (Tuesday to Friday), and tasting menus range from €45 to €60 for a monumental 12-courser . À la carte choices might include a starter of pickled rabbit with mushrooms and white beans (€14) or pickled trout with avocado and lentil hummus (€21). A bonus is the choice of earthy Mencía reds from the Bierzo, such as Cardona’s favourite, Altos de Losada (€24).
restaurantemuna.com

Arrels, Sagunto, near Valencia




arrels restaurant, near Valencia, Spain.


Head into ancient Roman territory in Sagunto, north of Valencia, to find this unusual restaurant led by the region’s rising star: 26-year-old Vicky Sevilla. Beneath the stone arches of converted 16th-century stables, diners enjoy adventurous combinations of Mediterranean ingredients. Excellent-value options range from a €15 lunch menu (Tuesday to Friday) to tasting menus at €30 and €39. Arrels means roots, and Vicky aims to showcase their gastronomic variety, working with turbot, tuna, scallops and suckling pig, as well as citrus fruits from her father’s orchard. Rice dishes feature, too. For wine she recommends a white or rosé from a small Valencian producer, El Celler del Roure (€22).
restaurantarrels.com

Alejandro Serrano, near Bilbao




Alejandro Serrano, chef, Spain



Alejandro Serrano

The CV of 22-year-old chef Alejandro Serrano glitters with Michelin stars, so it will be interesting to see if his two-month-old restaurant lives up to his mentors. Serrano’s cooking experience started early, in his family’s traditional restaurant in Miranda del Ebro, an industrial hub an hour’s drive south of Bilbao, and where he has opened his own minimalist restaurant. The food focuses on careful calibration, whether oxtail croquetas (€12), partridge cannelloni (€16) or on its tasting menus (€39-€72). The star dish is grilled Bluefin tuna (€29).
serranoalejandro.es

The Alchemix, Barcelona




The Alchemix, Barcelona


New to the Barcelona scene, this “gastro cocktail bar” in the uptown Eixample district fuses Asian and Catalan flavours. It was kickstarted when chef Sergi Palacín, 28, met bartender Ignacio Ussía while working at Bangkok restaurant Gaggan – and they joined professional forces in 2018. At the bar, cocktails (from €12) incorporate foam, smoke and caviar. Try Mrs Pots and Little Chip – gin macerated with Isfahan tea, rose syrup, lychee juice and hibiscus – while nibbling on an amuse bouche (from €4.50) of green curry rice toast, shimeji mushroom, carrot, coconut and nori powder. Bigger appetites can shift to the dining area for ambitious tasting menus (from €55) where dashi, mango, chilli and tamarind meet Iberian pork, red mullet and cauliflower.
thealchemix.com

Drómo, Badajoz, Extremadura




Fish dish at Drómo restaurant, Badajoz, southwest Spain.


At 16, Juan Manuel Salgado set off from Badajoz to study catering, going on to work with Michelin-star chefs such as Martín Berasategui, Quique Dacosta and Dani García. A year ago, Salgado, now 30, opened Drómo to introduce what he calls “casual fine dining” to his hometown near the Portuguese border. Seafood comes as small-plate dishes, such as a Lima-style seabass ceviche (€13) or grilled octopus with hummus and crunchy onion (€18), while carnivores rejoice in bellota ham or roast beef with blue cheese and peanut brittle (€12). Portions are generous, even in Salgado’s 12-course tasting menu (€64, order 24 hours in advance).
dromobadajoz.es

Amadía, Madrid




Victor Cuevas, chef.



Victor Cuevas

Calm and chic with a compact interior, Amadía is the six-month-old baby of 29-year-old Victor Cuevas, from Toledo. It’s in Madrid’s smart northern suburb of Las Rozas, a 30-minute train ride from the centre. Here, you will find an amalgam of classic French techniques (learned from chef Romain Fornell, at Caelis) with wild imagination. Dishes include foie gras in a hazelnut-and-apricot sauce, pigeon with its paté, beetroot and cocoa dust or artichoke hearts with egg yolk and ham consommé. Cuevas’s emphasis on seasonal produce comes to the fore in tasting menus of three to six courses (from €40).
On Facebook

Fiona Dunlop is author of Andaluz: a Food Journey through Southern Spain (Interlink Books, £24.99). To order a copy for £21.99 including free UK p&p visit the Guardian Bookshop

Looking for a holiday with a difference? Browse Guardian Holidays to see a range of fantastic trips

Original Source