La Rioja hasn’t reached the ceiling for Michelin stars, says gastronomic expert – EFE News

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Rebecca Palacios

Logroño, 10 Dec. (EFE).- “La Rioja has not reached a ceiling” in the awarding of gastronomic recognitions such as Michelin stars, thanks to chefs who carry out a job of “very high level”, assured the president of the ‘EFE Riojan Academy of Gastronomy, Pedro Barrio.

With seven Michelin stars and one greener, La Rioja is the community that has accumulated the most such awards in proportion to its number of inhabitants, but, according to Barrio, four or five other restaurants in the region also deserve awards. similar.

The Ajonegro restaurant in Logroño, by Mariana Sánchez and Gonzalo Baquedano, obtained the seventh Michelin star of La Rioja this year, which adds to the two of Francis Paniego at El Portal de Echaurren, in Ezcaray; and the other two (a new green obtained this year) by Ignacio Echapresto at Venta Moncalvillo, in Daroca de Rioja.

In addition, Carolina Sánchez and Iñaki Murua at Íkaro and Félix Jiménez at Kiro Sushi maintain this price in the capital of La Rioja; and Miguel Caño in Nublo, in Haro.

For the president of the Academy of Gastronomy of Rioja, these awards “will continue” to come with new candidates, thanks to the talent coming out of the hotel school of Santo Domingo de la Calzada and the training offered by the chefs in their own restaurants.

STIMULATE THE REGION AND ENCOURAGE EXCELLENCE

Among the objectives of this association, Barrio cited supporting the image of gastronomy in the community, improving its knowledge throughout the country and stimulating the sector to follow “the path of excellence and continuous improvement”. .

But gastronomy is not just about cooking, he stressed, since it is a cross-cutting activity that has “very significant economic implications”.

In addition to defending the local product and the producer and supporting the recovery of varieties that are lost or at risk of being lost, another objective of this entity is “to try to transfer the image of quality and excellence of La Rioja overseas,” Barrio said.

According to their data, more than 30% of foreign visitors decide to come to Spain because of the quality of its gastronomic offer.

SELF DEMAND AND HONESTY AT WORK

“It is only through self-demand and honesty at work that one can succeed,” said this gastronomy expert.

La Rioja has always had the reputation of being a place where “we eat well”, thanks to “privileged” products and the good work of its chefs.

In this sense, he recalled that chefs such as Lorenzo Cañas and Marisa Sánchez (Francis Paniego’s mother), in the last century, have made “a leap in quality by lightening and updating the traditional cookbook of Rioja”.

But later, he added, they were followed by second and third generations of chefs who have “increasingly” raised the culinary standard of La Rioja, recognized in recent years.

“In gastronomic Spain, we talk about what is happening in La Rioja with this proliferation of restaurants and bars, very different from each other, which offer a richness for the region much envied by others”, he said. assured.

In this sense, he highlighted the success of chefs with “very different personalities”, such as the case of the potter trained in Japan Félix Jiménez and his Kiro Sushi, which for Barrio, is “the most unmissable dining room in the world”. “, beyond the located in the Ginza district of Tokyo.

“This restaurant is extraordinary and of a rarity, because Félix Jiménez practices another philosophy. True to its principles, its obsession with excellence and continuous improvement have made it an international reference with its purist, essential and unique way of cooking.

THE WINE SERVICE, THE SUSPENDED SUBJECT

In order to maintain this good position, he argues that “no one should have to relax and the attitude of self-demanding and continuous improvement should be maintained in restaurants that have achieved high levels of recognition”.

According to him, the service of wine in bars and restaurants, although it has improved a lot, is “an outstanding problem” in La Rioja.

To this end, the Cultural Association of Sommeliers of La Rioja has begun to train professionals who want to improve their knowledge and pass it on to their customers, he added.

“When someone comes to La Rioja, they expect a lot to find great knowledge and good wine management, and that’s not always the case, so they can be disappointed,” he said.

Another problem, in this case widespread across the country, he pointed out, is the lack of well-trained professionals in hospitality and room service.

He pointed out that due to its size, “La Rioja should be an emporium of quality in its various activities and gastronomy is an example of what can be achieved with an honest and demanding objective”.

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