Spanish gastronomy

Young talent

08/10/2022 · By Javi de Munck
‘Oba’ is Javier Sanz and his partner’s bet to win a Michelin star
‘Oba’ is Javier Sanz and his partner’s bet to win a Michelin star. © Peter Marconi

The experience at the ‘temples’ of Spanish gastronomy crystalises in the search for the perfect bite for delight of diner. In this demanding task, is bent every day a new and promising batch of cuisine’s professionals —all them under 30—. Do you want to get to know them?

“We are what we eat”. Or that’s what some say. We precisely invoke this leitmotif to demand the best of the best in Spanish cuisine: from the food that is served at the table, through the service we receive, to the speed and efficiency that it’s served with. Everything counts. Every detail. Here are ten professionals under 30 —chefs, sommeliers, room managers, hostesses, etc.— who are up to these expectations. Ten of the best talents in Spain.

Shua Ibáñez – Arzak

Arzak’s second sommelier was one of the stars at Madrid Fusion 2022, where she won the Juli Soler Award for Talent and the Future of Wine. Biniaran, in Arties, or Rekondo, in San Sebastián, are two of the steps on the public path of this chef from Donosti who is “in love with customer service”. With a Master’s in Sommelier Studies and Enomarketing, she began working in this sector at the age of 16.

Sergio Ariño – Restaurante Alejandro Serrano

Recognised by the Basque Culinary Centre as one of the 100 young talents of Spanish gastronomy, Sergio Ariño is head chef and sommelier at Restaurante Alejandro Serrano, an establishment with one Michelin star. With studies in Hotel Management and Tourism by the University College of Hospitality and Tourism of Sant Pol de Mar, he started his career specialising in luxury events at Hotel Hesperia (Madrid). Today he’s a key part of the Sea of Castile concept by the chef from Miranda de Ebro.

Javier Sanz – Cañitas Maite and Oba

He trained at restaurants like Casa Marcial or Atrio after studying at the Hospitality School of Toledo. At the age of 23, he joined his friend Juan Sahuquillo to head and turn Cañitas Maite into a benchmark for Spanish gastronomy. A project for which they received the Breakout Chef Award at the 2021 edition of Madrid Fusión. At the start of 2022, they added an experimental haute cuisine space (Oba), to their venture, which is a homage to their Manchegan roots.

Marta Verona – Complutense University of Madrid

The winner of the sixth edition of the MasterChef TV programme has focused her career on a more technical and informative point of view, dedicated to teaching and researching Culinary Nutrition at the Complutense University of Madrid. As well as publishing her first book Don't Eat Like a Zombie, she shares her culinary and health knowledge on TV and social media.

Rocío Maeso – Narru

She works as head waiter at Narru (San Sebastián) and is a graduate in Gastronomy and Culinary Arts. She was an intern at Pakta and Noma, among others, as well as being an advisor to La Girolle de Lola. Rocío has been through all the stages of a restaurant’s production chain, from head of events to operations coordinator, which won her the Talento Gastro 2021 award for best host and customer care.

Javier Gómez – Aponiente

The sous chef of Aponiente, by chef Ángel León, found his place in the world of gastronomy after trying to study Finance and Teaching. He didn’t finish these studies and, guided by his culinary interest, did higher-level professional training as an executive chef. This knowledge allowed him to intern at ABaC, a restaurant with three Michelin stars, and finally reach port at Aponiente.

María Rey de la Calle – Azurmendi

After starting her professional career at Hogar del Pescador Mandanga in Santurtzi, she became one of the 15 female students that trained at the headquarters of Eneko Atxa in Larrabetzu (Biscay). This chef from San Sebastián is currently sous chef at this three-Michelin-star Basque restaurant, considered the most sustainable restaurant in the world.

Miguel Sáenz – Cenador de Amós

Winner of the Maitre Cantabria competition in 2019, he graduated from the Master’s in Hospitality Business Comprehensive Management and Practices at Las Carolinas. Today, he is part of the team of professional waiters at Cantabrian restaurant Cenador de Amós (three Michelin stars), where he’s in charge of welcoming guests, a job that requires “a lot of shrewdness and visual acuity”, in his own words.

Sofía Janer – La Dramerie

A chef and publicist by profession, she was part of the gastronomic team at ABaC, Jordi Cruz’s restaurant in Barcelona, and collaborates with consultancy I+Desserts. Together with her partner, Víctor Gonzalo, she also heads La Dramerie bakery, a small bakery that sells exclusively online which aims to “face dramas with sweetness”.

Peli Pérez de Anuzita – Garena Jatetxea<

He interned at Gaminiz, by Aitor Elizegi, and Boroa. He also crossed our borders to become a chocolatier and pastry chef at Oaxen Krog (Sweden). Currently Peli is head waiter at Garena Jatetxea, a restaurant that bets on finding common ground between gastronomic innovation and tradition, and that has a Michelin star since December 2021.