Santi Santamaría: “We are a showcase to display products you’d never have known before”

The Catalan Chef Santi Santamaria died of a heart attack this February. Last Autumn he gave this video interview in which he depicts his view on cuisine, the importance of local quality products, his own career and the new generation of the Catalan chefs. / CNA / Ignacio Portela Giráldez

March 4, 2011 09:35 PM

Barcelona ( Santi Santamaria was one of the most renowned Catalan chefs and the first one to have his restaurant ‘El Racó de Can Fabes’ awarded with 3 Michelin Stars, back in 1994. In fact, Santamaria had a total of 7 Michelin Stars, being the first Spanish chef to get them. Santi Santamaria was one of the four Catalan chefs with 3 Michelin Stars restaurants, together with Ferran Adrià, Carme Ruscalleda and Joan Roca. Santamaria died suddenly on the 16th of February in Singapore from a heart attack, where he just opened a new restaurant called ‘Santi’ that was managed by his daughter. In fact, Santamaria was running 6 restaurants: ‘El Racó de Can Fabes’ in his home town of Sant Celoni (3 Michelin Stars), ‘Evo’ close to Barcelona’s airport (1 Michelin Star), ‘Sant Celoni’ in Madrid (2 Michelin Stars), ‘Tierra’ in Toledo (1 Michelin Star), ‘Ossiano’ in Dubai, and ‘Santi’ in Singapore.

Santamaria gave this interview to Gastroteca last Autumn. The Catalan News Agency wanted to publish it again as a tribute to the great chef. Santamaria used to collaborate with several media, including the Catalan News Agency in his blog ‘Catalan Views’.

In this interview, Santamaria depicts the way he used to see and value the Catalan gastronomic products. “We have great wines, we have great products”, stated Santamaria. He also emphasised the need to keep traditions alive, such as going to the local market to gather fresh products. He also explained the way he saw the future of a new generation of Catalan Chefs: “there is a young generation of chefs that love what they do. They are inspired by the quality of the product”.

From his humble beginning as the son of farmers in the town of Sant Celoni, in north of Barcelona, to his triumphant career as a one of the best chefs in the world, Santamaria always defended a more natural and traditional cuisine. Santamaria defended local, season, and high-quality products. Based on a solid relationship with the farmers, Santamaria stated “we should look for the farmer that produces the best tomato” to explain the need to look for the best locals and fresh products from the region. In order to benefice each other, the chef gets the best products, and the farmer gets recognition for the quality of his production.

Santamaria considered himself a “showcase” for the Catalan products, which he always cooked and prepared in traditional ways, in contrast to Ferran Adrià’s Techno-Emotional or molecular gastronomy. “We are a showcase that displays a series of products that, many times, you would have never known if someone had not said to you: Listen, here we have this goat cheese, or here we have this wine, made in this region…”