Four year old Disfrutar debuts in The World’s 50 Best Restaurants top 20
Aspire Lifestyles had the honor of presenting the Highest New Entry Award to the restaurant that has come onto the list for the first time in the highest position – for 2018 that restaurant was Disfrutar in Barcelona at #18. The three chefs, Oriol Castro, Eduard Xatruch and Mateu Casañas, have a great history together from their days at El Bulli and are now a well-oiled machine, constantly striving for creativity as a team and pushing to make Disfrutar even better each day. They took a moment to speak with Ann Hill, Aspire Lifestyles Director of Dining, about creativity, hospitality and their influences.
Aspire Lifestyles: Aspire Lifestyles was so honored to present you with the Highest New Entry Award. To come in at #18 is remarkable! How did that feel?
Disfrutar: We did not expect it and it was a truly honor for us. And we are so happy with this award and we feel so proud for all the team.
Aspire Lifestyles: The three of you came from El Bulli and obviously have something special as a team. Do each of you have a specialty or do you create collaboratively? What do each of you bring to the table?
Disfrutar: We create collaboratively. We always say that we are lucky because we are “one” cook with six hands, six eyes and three brains… We are working together more than 20 years, we respect each other professionally and we love personally. The three of us together adds much more. Our culinary philosophy and our approach to creativity is a result of many years spent working together. We have a lot of “discussions” about how to move forward, what works, and what doesn’t. We are quite honest about our views, sincerity is vital.
Aspire Lifestyles: What is the most important value in cooking that you teach and stress to your kitchen team?
Disfrutar: For us, the creative honesty, the regularity in the production and the self-criticism of the results are essential for the good functioning of the team. And, of course, we work hard on team building, because everyone is fundamental. We really believe in our team.
Aspire Lifestyles: What has been your most memorable food destination (city/country)? Why?
Disfrutar: Without any doubt, Japan. Culturally is very different from Europe. Their unique way to understand the kitchen and all the different products they have, it was a pleasant surprise to “discover” Japan the first time we went.
Aspire Lifestyles: What are your thoughts on bloggers and diners on social media vs. established restaurant critics?
Disfrutar: We respect both. Established restaurant critics have a knowledge and an experience that they have been working on for years.The palate needs a lot of years of training and it’s very important to travel and taste as much as you can to be able to judge. But as we said, we also respect bloggers, because all of us are free to write about food. They are different ways of valuing the gastronomic world.
Aspire Lifestyles: What has been the most interesting ingredient, technique or dish that you have experienced while traveling that has inspired your cooking?
Disfrutar: There are many of, but one of them could be the “oblate”. (Note: Oblate is transparent, flavorless, edible film). In fact, we discovered the oblate when we were in elBulli, in one of our trips to Japan. We started working with the oblate at elBulli and now, at Disfrutar, we still use it. During these years, we have created new dishes and, recently, the oblate has helped us to create a new technique. Using oblate, we can prepare a mille-feuilles without flour.
Aspire Lifestyles: Do non-chef family and friends ever invite you to their home for dinner and cook for YOU?
Disfrutar: Yes, of course! And as guests we are very grateful!
Aspire Lifestyles: Which restaurant, hotel, person or place has most inspired your sense of hospitality?
Disfrutar: We think it’s obvious that Juli Soler is our referent if we talk about the sense of hospitality. All we learnt from him during the years we were in elBulli is what we are now using at Disfrutar. But, we have to say, that in terms of hospitality, El Celler de Can Roca is also a referent.
Aspire Lifestyles: People come to your restaurant for special occasions that become life moments. For the three of you, it’s your day to day job description. What constitutes a really great day at work for you and can you tell us about any that stand out?
Disfrutar: For us, the most important thing is that clients leave the restaurant with a smile and happy after having living the experience in Disfrutar. And if we talk about the organizational level, both kitchen and service, a great day is when we have been able to improve on something. We mean: to finish the day better than we started it in terms of quality.
Aspire Lifestyles: One evening you get to take 5 chefs (present or past) to dinner at any restaurant in the world. Which chefs do you bring along with you and where do you take them (aside from your own restaurant)? Why those chefs and why that restaurant?
Disfrutar: We will bring along with us: August Escoffier, Juan Mari Arzak, Michel Guérard, Michel Bras and Ferran Adrià. We choose those chefs because if it were not for them, we would not be doing what we do nowadays. And we would take them to a beach, we would prepare an ember and we would cook fish and shellfish.
Aspire Lifestyles: How has your placement on The World’s 50 Best Restaurants list changed your lives?
Disfrutar: It has not changed our lives (ha-ha!). As we said, we are so happy to be on The World’s 50 Best Restaurants, it is an honor, but our day to day is the same. We continue working to improve every day.