The chef of M.B restaurant, protégé of Martín Berasategui and holder of two Michelin stars, will, together with the master chef, offer us a gastronomic voyage through Spain at the Abama Luxury Residences Charity Gala Dinner on the 14th of October, where their artistry will accompany a flamenco performance by Sara Baras.
Erlantz Gorostiza is the Gastronomy Director and Head of Kitchen at The Ritz-Carlton, Abama’s M.B restaurant, the only establishment on the Canary Islands with two Michelin stars. Gorostiza is one of the standout protégés of Martín Berasategui and has received numerous awards for the wonderful transformations that the techniques and innovations of the Basque chef have produced in the exquisite ingredients born of the sea and the earth of the Canary Islands. In this interview, Gorostiza tells us about the constant search for excellence that has defined his last seven years at M.B, the liberty they gained in opening their second restaurant at Abama, Txoko, and a few hints about the M.B meal that awaits attendees at the Gala Dinner this October 14th after the performance by Sara Baras.
M.B has enjoyed a tremendous amount of success, both critical and popular. Where do you go from here? Do you still find the work challenging?
Yes, of course! No project is ever finished. There is always room for improvement, and this is personally what I like the most. The ability to perfect my work every day and help our team do the same is a source of satisfaction. If you think that at M.B there are about 35 employees, if we each improve on one small detail per day, that’s 35 little details. In one week it’s 250 small details, and in a year it’s more than 12,000!!! Just imagine the transformations we can make…
What have you learned from working with a chef like Martín Berasategui?
Everything. He taught me that the first thing we have to be is good people, and then good professionals. Working closely with people like Martín that have achieved so many important milestones in gastronomy enriches your life every day. It’s a pleasure and an honor to work at his side. At the beginning he was just my boss, then my confidante, and for many years now we’ve been friends.
For many lovers of gastronomy, who consider cooking to be an art, the creative process behind a menu continues to be a mystery. How do you design dishes and menus? Is it through the daily inspiration of fresh ingredients? Do you plan weeks in advance? Do you have a seasonal trajectory in your mind?
We design everything months in advance, sometimes years in advance. It’s a process in which many people are involved. Martín Berasategui leads the process, and then every member of the teams that Martín has in all our restaurants adds his or her grain of sand before Martín Berasategui lends his final master touch.
How do you combine the great minds of two chefs during this design process?
It’s easy, because we see gastronomy in general and our approach to cooking in the same way.
If you had to choose between excellent technique and excellent ingredients, what would you opt for?
Excellent ingredients, no question. Without them, a great recipe is impossible.
What is the best thing about Tenerife gastronomy?
In terms of ingredients, the Camarón Soldado. In terms of the gastronomy, the mix of different cultures and the ingredients brought from the Americas. They give the island a gastronomy that is unique and stands out.
What is the perfect meal for Erlantz Gorostiza?
One taken in good company. I think there’s a different occasion for every type of restaurant and you can enjoy a local “guachinche” just as much as a restaurant that’s received lots of awards. That’s the beautiful thing about it.
What makes Abama the ideal setting for M.B?
Everything. I think without Abama we wouldn’t be anyone. This is the most spectacular hotel that I’ve ever seen, and I think we just try to contribute our small part to making it a bit better every day.
What role does your other restaurant in the resort, Txoko, play at Abama? Has it given you an opportunity to do things you can’t at M.B?
Yes, it’s given us the chance to create new dishes with different concepts, while at the same time exploring these more than 40 years of gastronomic experience that Martín Berasategui has. It’s a restaurant designed for enjoyment, one where you can go and eat something different every day. And that’s something that’s really important to us, that above all the people have a good experience and come back.
You’ve worked in many regions of Spain at the top level of the industry, in restaurants with Michelin stars in Alicante, Cuenca, Gerona, and now Tenerife. What are some of the most interesting commonalities and differences in the objectives of these establishments?
There is one common denominator between all of them: they are all in search of perfection, and every one of them does their utmost to attain it. They are all also led by great professionals who want people to enjoy what they are creating. In terms of differences, there are quite a few, since each views gastronomy in a different way, but this isn’t a problem as long as the gastronomy is good. All roads lead to Rome.
Can you tell us a bit about the Basque cooking clubs, and in what way you think this regional passion for cooking has influenced the way you approach your work?
In everything. In the Basque Country everything revolves around gastronomy, and every celebration happens around a table. That’s why it’s given such importance, an importance that we learn as children. Being a chef has always been an esteemed profession. In my case, my passion for cooking was aroused from a very young age, because my Amama is an incredible cook and she was the one that introduced me to this wonderful art.
The Gala Dinner that is to follow the performance of Sara Baras at the Abama Gala 2017 will be an incredible opportunity for our guests to get up close and personal with two arts as rich and genuinely Spanish as flamenco and gastronomy. Can you give us any hints about what to expect?
It’s going to be a very special night in which we’ll travel gastronomically through different Spanish regions, with dishes and products from each one of them. Saying more would ruin the surprise for attendees! You’ve just got to take the plunge and come to this very, very special event!