David Andrés (Igualada, 1987) remembers perfectly the time he received an email from Forbes from the other side of the ocean. He was informed that he had been selected for his '30Under30 Europe 'in 2017, a list of 300 young Europeans under 30 years of age, great leaders and agents of change in different fields. I thought it was a joke. The next day they called him. "If it's a radio joke, I thought, it would be better to do it to Jordi [Cruz], who will have more hook," confesses the young cook. It was not a joke, and neither is it when many consider it the future of gastronomy in Spain. We take care almost to start the service, climbed on skates that take him from one side to another, between Barcelona and Igualada, between the high cuisine of the ABaC and his personal project, Somiatruites restaurant, founded together with his brother in his hometown.
I have read that a roller hockey ball has to weigh exactly 155 grams and be a sphere with a perimeter of 23 centimeters. Is a Michelin star so perfect, or does it depend on the eyes that observe it?
A Michelin star is something that creates a company and some inspectors, who do an impressive job and super difficult, but of course, it is a subjective thing. I am a great defender of the work they do, because I know the effort behind them, but there will be opinions that do not agree with me. The hockey ball is very round. Michelin does a very round job, but it will surely have defenders and detractors.
From Tuesday to Saturday you work leaving your skin to continue to see two of them in the ABaC sky. Some do it with pressure. You, however, have confessed to being a fairly quiet person.
I am an extremely calm person and, besides, I am doing what I am really passionate about. If I leave my restaurant to come to ABaC is because it really is my passion, haute cuisine is a thing that drives me crazy. I enjoy cooking so much that it is impossible for me to be nervous. I go in on Tuesdays here and I do not leave until Saturday. Not only do we fight to keep this second star, but we fight and dream about getting that third star, and that it will come very soon.
Will we ever see the Star of David Andres from the Somiatruites?
That is more complicated. This year we have been given the Bib Gourmand, which is considered the Michelin star of cheap restaurants. It is a recognition that in my life I would have thought that I would get Somiatruites, and that for us it is like a three star in Igualada. Maybe in the future ... Somiatruites will continue to grow. My brother and I are going to create a hotel, and hopefully in the future we can open another restaurant also in Igualada. With Somiatruites we wanted to do something to connect with the city. My brother adapted his architecture to the neighborhood, and I adapted my kitchen to the moment that I was living the city. We are in one of the most unemployed places in Catalonia. We had to adapt to make a cool, fun thing, turn it around, and make it a budget restaurant. We prioritize much more connecting with the city and the public than the Stars.
Can the kitchen become more competitive than the sport?
No. Definitely not. I understand cooking as a sport because we do not stop being a team, many people are involved and everyone is important, not just the chef. In fact, there is a preparation when we elaborate the menu and the service, that would be the equivalent to the trainings and the party. The adrenaline of a match is very similar to that of a service, but on the other hand, when I present myself to a contest at all it is a competition. I am going to present a plate to the jury, which are my idols to which I respect. I'm going to introduce you to my work, I'm not going to compete with any other cook. Yes I do much with the sport in terms of teamwork, but zero in the competition, because in the kitchen you can not compete. You have to enjoy it and you can only compete with yourself for self-improvement.
It has been in great "culinary stadiums". What did you feel when you became a finalist for S. Pellegrino Young Chef in 2016, and no winner?
A huge happiness. People do not understand. You have said it subtly, but there are people who ask me what happened so that I would lose again. He was 29 years old. I have been cooking for nine years, I have gone twice to the world championship, winning twice in Spain and Portugal. That has given me the opportunity, for example, this year to go to Milan for a whole week and live with Andoni Luis Aduriz, work in Mugaritz with him, present a dish to Mauro Colagreco, Elena Arzak or Gaggan Anand. I hope this year I lose again and my whole life continues to lose. Yes that won another boy and we were seconds, but I applauded and I enjoyed the moment. I think I had a better time than him (laughs).
Is he going to introduce himself again?
In two months I return to participate.
Would you take Jordi Cruz as a 'Mentor Chef'?
First you have to win Spain and Portugal, which is super complicated. It's something you do not choose. In case he won this year would be Oriol Castro, former chef of El Bulli. It is one of the reasons why I introduce myself. Last year being able to meet Andoni was a dream, and this year being able to meet and work with Oriol Castro would be another dream. Obviously I would like to see Jordi Cruz come. He is more than a mentor or a chef who idolizes. He has become like a brother in the kitchen. We have been together for many years, we are two very similar people, very shy and quiet, and we understand each other very well.
A dish made from sheep's milk, artichoke pistils, suckling lamb and pine smoke. This was the creation that led him to be the champion of the region Spain and Portugal in this contest in 2016. How many times did you run before the contest?
Many. Also thanks to the help of Jordi, who from my beginnings has believed very much in me. When I introduced him to the dish, he told me that he loved it, and that to make things easier and more comfortable, he let me put it on ABaC. We have had it in the restaurant one year.
How many times did you think in your life that you would be a good architect?
From 10 to 20 years old. I guess I was in that age of life where you are not clear about things. My brother, three years older than me, is a genius of architecture, and I began to complicate myself. I was looking for something a bit more manual, and ahead of me passed ABaC.
Now his brother also works at the Somiatruites, a restaurant he designed.
He is the director of everything, because having a restaurant is a beautiful thing, but it involves a lot of dedication. We set up the restaurant thinking that I was leaving ABaC. Then, just as we were starting the project, Jordi proposed to be a chef. Serlo with 25 years in a Michelin two star restaurant was an opportunity he could not pass up. Thanks to my brother and all my family, I was able to fulfill these two dreams, and to continue as chef of 25 years and at the same time to have my own restaurant. My brother has the architecture studio on the first floor and he goes there all day. Come in, go to the office of architecture, which is really your job, and when it comes to eating low, get people, try to help in everything. He also comes from the sporting world and knows that every business is a team effort.
Jordi Cruz knew how to retain talent. He must be afraid of her leaving.
I did not know, I did not know it. In fact, it was another of the difficult and beautiful moments of my life. I had been in ABaC for two years and, well, after a stage, I was 25 and my brother proposed to open something in Igualada. I thought, well let's open it when I'm a little tired, I'm in time to go back to the kitchen and that's it. Time passed and one day my brother said to me, "Well, you either tell Jordi, or they're going to put us in jail because we have to open it already, and we have to pay a lot of things." One day I went to tell Jordi and I left with that he had to tell me one thing, and it was that he had thought of me to give ABaC a fresh air.
Who communicated the news first to whom?
We sat down on a Saturday night and told him that I wanted to talk to him. He told me the same thing. I told him I was sorry, but I was coming to tell him I was quitting. He told me that nothing happened, but that he thought about it. I thought about it for five minutes. The next day I told Jordi to count on me.
She says that the decision to choose the kitchen took her at a dinner with her family in the ABaC. What did Xavier Pellicer, then chef of the restaurant, tell you when he entered the kitchen to work?
He said: "Go to the kitchen, take 'ciboulette' and cut into 'ciseler'". I did not know how to do anything, not one thing or another, not cut, not 'ciseler'. The ABaC was a kitchen with five cooks and they could not take 'stagiers' because there was no space. The first practitioner they took in seven years, I think it was me. When Pellicer asked me for all that and told him I had never cut, you can imagine the face that was put on the poor man. He had a lot of patience with me and in the end he learned of my history, which had left the Spanish team to enter there. He adopted me as if he were a son. I consider him my father in the kitchen. He hired me after a month without knowing anything and that year we won the second Michelin star.
What did you say when you said goodbye to ABaC?
He gave me a hug, thank you so much for the work done and, that if I needed it, I could always count on him.
Jordi Cruz could be considered his second teacher.
Yes. Pellicer is like my father and Jordi like my brother.
I remember he took it on a visit to MasterChef. Do you see yourself as a "media cook"?
Not at all. Andoni or Joan Roca are two numbers one in the world, but I do not consider them media, but two numbers one. It is normal for them to talk about them because they are two numbers one, but they are extremely humble. They are obsessed with continuing to learn everything. I reflect on that, I want to be like them, I want to continue fighting for this office and continue learning.
Some consider him rather shy. Your kitchen does not say the same thing. Do you wear skates for cooking?
That's a joke I always make. When I have the full restaurant I say: "Bring the skates tonight because you have to run more" (laughs). I am a shy person in the face to face, but I am a super confident person, determined, self-demanding, and that makes me partly be shy and, on the other hand, be very convinced of everything I do.
The word 'somiatruites' comes to describe that person who dreams of strange or impossible things.
The nice thing about 'somiatruites' is that it is a compound word, for 'somia' and 'truites', which literally means 'dream tortillas', but figuratively it is crazy. It has two meanings. On the one hand, the negative, that is a guy who is crazy and thinks of nonsense and, on the other hand, that which refers to a dreamer who believes in impossible things and fights for their dreams to get them.
However, you say you have your feet firmly on the ground.
I come from a super close and pretty family that has made me have my feet on the ground since I went to the Spanish team, and obviously the two brothers are going to have their feet on the ground. We will continue to work very hard, but a little 'somiatruites' we have been.
Will they still dream?
Very much. In fact, if I were not a born dreamer right now I would not even be in ABaC or open my restaurant. We will continue to dream and continue to grow.
What do you dream about?
Keep your feet on the ground. Every morning the first thing I do when I get up is to put on some green slippers that remind me of my grandmother. Also with continuing to work hard. If you work hard, you give everything, you want to continue learning and you are self-demanding, the job well done always ends up having results.