Five Michelin Stars for One Catalan Lady

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One lucky lady has good reason to be cheerful. She is the only chef in the world, male or female, to be given an accolade of five Michelin stars. Her name is Carme Ruscalleda.

Carme Ruscalleda is a Catalan lady, who was already proud about her three star Michelin rating for her ‘Restaurante Sant Pau’, in Sant Pol de Mar, some 35 minutes east of Barcelona. The restaurant is set in a villa overlooking the Mediterranean sea. But now, she has also been given two more Michelin stars for her relatively new venture, the ‘Restaurante Sant Pau de Tokio’, opened in 2004 in Tokyo, Japan. Mrs. Ruscalleda admitts that she had hoped for a one star rating for her Tokyo restaurant. She says that she was surprised but delighted to have been handed two stars.

 

Ferran Adrià, eat your heart out. 

This fancy Tokyo branch of Carme Ruscalleda’s famous restaurant serves some serious Catalan cuisine. The tasting menu is ¥21,000, whilst main dishes are around ¥7,000 each. The lunchtime “Bento menu” is ¥8,000. There’s a more informal wine bar downstairs, with some 350 varieties of mostly Spanish wines and a menu of light tapas.

Senyora Ruscalleda was raised in a family of farmers and began cooking as a young girl. Later she studied Charcuterie technics. After marrying a grocery shop owner in 1975, she convinced her husband to open a restaurant. The ‘Restaurante Sant Pau’ opened in 1988. Just over two years after its inauguration, ‘Sant Pau’ won one Michelin star. In 1996, Carme Ruscalleda was given a two-star rating by the Michelin critics. She finally obtained a third Michelin Guide star in 2006.

Carme Ruscalleda is one of Spain’s top and most international women chefs. She is best known in Spain for having been chosen in 2004 as the chef for the wedding celebrations of Principe Felipe and Letizia Ortiz. Her restaurant ‘San Pau’ in Sant Pol de Mar is a convincing example of how to create unique dishes by combining a sense of imagination with traditional Catalán ingredients.

If you want to test Mrs. Ruscalleda’s fine art of cooking yourself, or if you have a wedding celebration coming up, here are her details:

Restaurante Sant Pau

08395 Sant Pol de Mar (Catalunya)

Tel.: +34.93.760.0662

Restaurante Sant Pau de Tokio

Coredo Nihonbashi Annex 1/2F

1-6-1 Nihonbashi, Chuo-ku

Tokyo (Japan)

Tel.: +81.03.3517.5700

 

If you enjoy eating out you probably know that Spanish gastronomy as a whole is highly esteemed by the gurus of le Guide Michelin, especially so if chefs from the Basque country and from Catalunya are involved in the cooking. 

Guide Michelin rated a total of 134 Spanish restaurants with either one, two or three stars, in their new Guide Michelin Hotels & Restaurants for Spain 2008

Six restaurants (three Basque and three Catalán) were confirmed for 2008 for their high food standard. These restaurants are those of chefs, Juan Mari Arzak (restaurant ‘Arzak’, San Sebastián); Santi Santamaría (‘Can Fabes’, Sant Celoni, Barcelona); Ferran Adrià (‘El Bulli’, Roses, Girona); Martín Berasategui (‘Martín Berasategui’, Lasarte, Guipúzcoa); Pedro Subijana (‘Akelarre’, San Sebastián) and Carme Ruscalleda (‘Sant Pau’, Sant Pol de Mar, Barcelona), mentioned above. Well done, and congratulations to all. There was no change to the 2007 compilation. Against all expectations, no additional Spanish restaurant was rated highly enough to rise to the top accolade of three stars.

These are the current two Michelin star restaurants in Spain: ‘Tristán’, in Portals Nous (Mallorca, Baleares); ‘Atrio’, in Cáceres; ‘El Poblet’, in Dènia; ‘Mugaritz’, in Rentería; ‘El Celler de Can Roca’, in Girona; ‘La Broche’ and ‘Santceloni’, in Madrid; ‘Zuberoa’, in Oiartzun, and ‘La Alquería de Hacienda Benazuza’, in Sanlúcar la Mayor (Sevilla), as well as now, for the first time, ‘Abac’, in Barcelona.

There are fifteen new one star eateries in Spain, according to the Michelin opinion, bringing the total of one star rated restaurants in Spain to a stunning 119. Ten previous one star bearers have lost their star rating.

The new one star rated restaurants are ‘Comerç 24′ and ‘Lluçanés’, in Barcelona; ‘Yayo Daporta’, in Cambados (Pontevedra); ‘Kokotxa’ and ‘Kursaal’, in San Sebastián; ‘Arrop’, in Gandía; ‘Massana’, in Girona; ‘Azurmendi’, in Larrabetzu (Vizcaya); ‘El Club Allard’, in Madrid; ‘Calima’, in Marbella; ‘Els Casals’, in Sagás (Barcelona); ‘Retiro da Costiña’, in Santa Comba (La Coruña); ‘Villena’, in Segovia; ‘El Molino de Urdaitz’, in Urdaitz (Navarra), and ‘Ramiro’s’, in Valladolid.

The following restaurants lost their single star, ‘La Posada de la Casa del Abad’, in Ampudia; ‘Aldebarán’, in Badajoz; ‘Jean Luc Figueras’, in Barcelona; ‘Gallery Paladares’, in Gijón; ‘Carballeira’, in Lleida; ‘Casa d’a Troya’, in Madrid; ‘Mesana’, in Marbella, ‘Chez Víctor’, in Salamanca, ‘Lluçanès’, in Prats de Lluçanès, and ‘Koldo Royo’, in Palma de Mallorca, where I live. Oh, well. It has to be Marc Fosh then, at Read’s, in Santa Maria, I suppose. About him, some other time, soon.

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Funnily enough, Tokyo was rated with a surprising total of 191 Michelin stars, a record, given that Parisian restaurants were only awarded a total of 94 stars (New York has a total of 54 Michelin stars, just for the record). Japan is a new departure for le Guide Michelin but, no doubt, food lovers will flock there soon to try out the culinary delights, of eastern as well as western inclination, of the great gastronomic treats of Japan. Some connoisseurs consider some restaurant food in Tokyo as amongst the best cuisine in the world.

 

Others, of course, take objection to a European venture daring to consider themselves capable of judging traditional Japanese cooking.  

 

According to Restaurant Magazine (not related to le Guide Michelin), Spain has four establishments in the top eleven restaurants in the world, with the unique ‘El Bulli’, in Roses (Girona) being rated the world’s best restaurant for two years running. I have not eaten there myself, as yet, I must admit, but I do give the highest of my own ratings to Ferran Adrià’s lavishly edited El Bulli books. Always a sensual delight. Mouthwatering, again and again. 

 

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Some volumes are available in English language editions for your convenience (as well as in Spanish, German, French and Catalán).

 

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One response to “Five Michelin Stars for One Catalan Lady

  1. Thanks for such a nice piece. Might go there next week. Carme might be the only chef in the world to have a collection of 5 Michelin stars but Alain Ducasse has 13. Bon Appetit.

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