David Andrés re-lives the magic of S.Pellegrino Young Chef Grand Finale for a third time bravely representing the hopes of young chefs in Spain and Portugal.
While he is the first and only young chef in the competition to have achieved this feat, cooking wasn’t always a natural calling for the sous chef from ABaC in Barcelona.
Will it be third time lucky for this determined young chef who historically swopped his football kit for chef whites?
In between working in a three Michelin star restaurant and managing his own restaurant with his brother, he found time to talk to us about the thrill of competing in S.Pellegrino Young Chef 2018.
Describe your signature dish…
I look for the integral use of the tuna. I think the title explains the philosophy of the dish quite well - taking advantage of some parts of the tuna that are usually rejected.
I chose this dish in order to send messages of healthy and sustainable cooking. And I choose tuna, because besides being from my territory and extremely healthy, we are not currently using it in a sustainable way.
Why did you become a chef?
Until I was 20, I had not even entered the kitchen of my house. My life was about top-class sport and architecture.
However, during a family dinner at ABaC, in Barcelona, something clicked inside me. I went into the kitchen and without even knowing how to hold a knife, I told the chef I wanted to be there by his side. He accepted, and right after entering there I fell in love with the profession.
I went into that ABaC kitchen, which had a Michelin star, without knowing how to do anything. And thanks to this passion and love for cooking, today I’m still there, in the same kitchen, with the same passion and humbleness, as a sous-chef and with 3 Michelin stars.
Who has been an influence in your career?
Undoubtedly, my dad. He is passionate about the gastronomic culture of each place, and he really knew how to pass this on to my brother and I, and I’ve been very lucky to always travel all together with my parents and my brother, and get to know different cuisines and cultures. I suppose it was the first seed of the big passion I feel today.
When it comes to inside the kitchen, the 5 top chefs I have worked with, my 5 mentors: Xavier Pellicer**, Jean Louis Neichel**, Joan Roca***, Andoni Luis Aduriz** and last but not least, and for about 8 years, Jordi Cruz***.
And I’m sure that without his examples, I would never have fallen in love with my job.
Where do you see yourself within 5/10 years?
Where I will be is something difficult to know. But I’m sure I will still be working in a kitchen, learning every day, and surrounded by the best team and the best people.
At the moment I am sous-chef at ABaC*** and me and my brother own a restaurant called Somiatruites, in my hometown. I only hope that me and my restaurant keep growing with the same passion and happiness as now.
How do you collaborate/did you collaborate with your mentor, Oriol Castro, in order to perfect the dish for the grand finale?
We are working really hard to improve all aspects of the dish. And I want to take advantage of this opportunity to thank that a chef of such a category of Oriol Castro has opened to me the doors of his house, and that he is willing to help me and teach me. Oriol Castro was a chef at the elBulli kitchen, where he worked for more than 13 years. And he is nowadays the owner (with also 2 sous-chefs from elBulli) of Disfrutar Restaurant**, nº55 of the 50best).
It really is a dream come true to be able to listen to him, get to know him and learn from him, and there’s something new to learn every minute. He is a number one.
What is the most exciting/challenging element of the S.Pellegrino Young Chef contest for you?
There are different factors that make this contest magical:
Live together with 20 top young chefs with whom we share the same passion.
Get to know the mentors from each country (which are all idols for us)
The self-satisfaction of participating in the most prestigious contest in the world, since we are all young and we are still learning.
But I think the most exciting fact is to challenge yourself and work together with your mentor, in order to learn and evolve with one of your idols. It is an experience that will mark you for life.
Why do you think you can win at S.Pellegrino Young Chef in 2018?
I can win because I am one of the 21 finalists. And we are all going to go with the same excitement. And we are all going to make the best out of it.
Besides that, my experience tells me that all the 21 of us are going to win. Because we are chefs who are growing and learning, who are passionate for cooking. And S.Pellegrino is giving us the chance to work with one of the best chefs of our country, to present a dish to a jury comprised of 7 wise people (some of the best chefs in the whole world), as well as getting to know 20 amazing young talents, who will become friends for our whole career. And on top of that, we are going to have so much fun. Isn’t it great? Isn’t that winning?
If you were not a chef, what would you be?
Perhaps I would have a job where I could develop my creativity. I love architecture, but my brother is a great architect, and I better leave it on him and I stay in the kitchen.
What is your most memorable gastronomic experience?
I have been lucky to eat in incredible restaurants, and to enjoy a lot of memorable dishes. But the gastronomic experience I remember the most is, probably, a dinner with my family at ABaC in 2007, with Xavier Pellicer as a chef. There, I got so excited about the experience that when I finished eating dinner, I went into the kitchen and I told the chef that I wanted to be like them: a chef. And after that, I drop out of top-class sport and of the architecture degree to start learning and dreaming to be like them.
What do you enjoy doing during your free time?
Currently I don’t have much free time, because the dream of working ay ABaC as a sous-chef and to have my own restaurant requires a lot of effort and a lot of time.
But I have always enjoyed sports, and above all being and enjoying time with the people I love the most; my grandma, my family, my partner...
11. To chefs that return to the competency for the second or third time, explain why you decided to compete again.
Because this competition is very prestigious and has a lot of magic. It’s wonderful. And this is not just words, because it’s the third year in a row that I’m going to the finale, and if I had been brave to participate every year and I give the best of me in order to repeat each year, is because I appreciate it and I am very thankful for the opportunity of S.Pellegrino.
When the 2016 finale ended, I took the microphone, I congratulated the winner chef, Mitch Lienhard, and afterwards I encouraged all the participants to come back the following year, because all of them knew the beautiful experience it was... and I will be there, giving the best of me, with the best mentor and enjoying the most out of it.