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Javier Aranda, the owner, and chef of the restaurants La Cabra and Gaytán, both with one Michelin star, is one of the greatest chefs of Madrid’s new gastronomy. Today we talk to him.

How do you define your type of cuisine? What kind of influences does it have?

I define it as ‘own identity, global influence’. I am an advocate of Spanish products and a responsible cuisine, and I develop my creations from national seasonal ingredients. My influence is global because it comes from the incorporation and adaptation of techniques and products from other cultures into local products, respecting their seasonality and their peak of quality and preservation.

Your three favorite restaurants and why?

Aponiente: For its specialization and constant innovation. The research carried out in this restaurant make it possible to achieve new culinary products and elaborations. All Martín Berasategui’s restaurants: The chef is a reference in Spanish gastronomy and has been one of the fundamental pillars in positioning Spain at the forefront of international cuisine. And Sacha: A restaurant with tradition whose success is based on the quality of the ingredients.

Which cooks or chefs have influenced your cuisine?

All the chefs and restaurants where I have worked have influenced my cuisine. But the most important influence in my career has been my grandfather on my mother’s side. He is responsible for my passion for cooking. In fact, Gaytán is a tribute to him, as it is the name of the town where he was born.

Being dedicated to this flavorful world, is there any ingredient or dish that you don’t like?

Not really. I take risks with any ingredient or technique when it comes to cooking. I have my own personal taste of course, and there are ingredients that I like more and others that I like less, like anyone else, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t have to use them. We must always respect the taste of all the customers who come to either of my two restaurants, both at La Cabra and Gaytán.

What is the most exotic thing you have ever eaten?

Monkey’s brain in Cancun.

On a deserted island (where the necessary infrastructure exists to be able to cook), what three or four ingredients do you consider essential for cooking?

Olive oil, onion, spices, and water.

What qualities do you appreciate in a restaurant when you eat out?

I appreciate the overall computation of the experience. As the owner of two restaurants, I know that both the gastronomy and the service in the dining room are important. Of course, I look at the culinary aspect of the dishes in terms of creativity, taste, aesthetics and quality of the ingredients, but I also look at the service offered to the customer from the moment they walk in the door. This includes the service provided by the wait staff, the restaurant’s wine references, the ambience of the restaurant, etc.

Which country has surprised you the most for its cuisine and why?

Peru. Because it offers a very particular gastronomic richness due to its geographical diversity and the fact that there are very different climatological characteristics in this country. Also, Peruvian cuisine has been a meeting point for different cultures over the last centuries, which has influenced the variety of its culinary offerings with a very particular mix of flavors and recipes.

What is a chef’s war cry?

In my case it’s “Is everyone in mise en place?”. I use it to check if the team has everything ready to go.

What is your opinion about gastronomy shows on TV, are they positive or negative for the industry, and do they convey a true picture of what this world is really like?

My opinion about gastronomy shows on TV is that they can be a double-edged sword. They have a positive aspect because they have helped the public understand the entire creative process behind the elaboration of a dish. But it also has a negative effect because it is often judged with no knowledge of all the effort behind the creation of new and exclusive menus.

Do you think there is a “gastronomic bubble” today? How do you see the future of Spanish gastronomy?

The truth is that I do believe there is a “gastronomic bubble”. Currently there has been a “boom” within the restaurant sector, with the opening of new gastronomic proposals everywhere in Spain. Television has probably influenced this, and the fact that our country is perceived as a culinary reference. But when this trend ends, only those restaurants that have their own personality and a consistent criteria in their evolution will survive.

A piece of advice for young people who want to dedicate to this profession.

That they do it because it is their passion. This job requires a lot of effort and dedication, many hours and sacrifice. You must start from the bottom, learn, and make the most of any work experience you have. Because a technique or a product, however classic or innovative it is, can inspire you to develop a special creation. And of course, you also must have your own personality to create unique dishes.

How do you envision your professional future?

Always going one step further and consolidating my projects at the same time. I like to get involved in new challenges and create, especially create. I am passionate about offering unique experiences based on research and previous work, and always achieving an unforgettable gastronomic proposal for all my clients. This is what I have done in my restaurant, Gaytán, where I have just incorporated a new menu called ” The Great Silk and Spice Route” which I am very proud of.

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