Zalacaín aspires to return to its “best times” as of June



Madrid, Apr 24 (EFE) .- With a makeover that recalls his “best times”, Íñigo Urrechu’s experience in the kitchen, which will eliminate the dishes that have become “outdated” and update the rest, and all his Former staff will reopen in mid-June Zalacaín (Madrid) with its new property.

Founded in 1973 by Jesús María Oyarbide and Consuelo Apalategui, the first Spanish restaurant to show off three Michelin stars, last November the La Finca business group announced that it would not reopen the doors it closed with confinement, declared bankruptcy and requested bankruptcy. .

With two finalists, the winner was the one presented by Íñigo Urrechu, Antonio Menéndez and Manuel Marrón, who already have five restaurants: Urrechu, El cielo de Urrechu (reopens on May 5 with a new terrace), A’Kangas by Urrechu and Urrechu Velázquez , all in the Community of Madrid, and in Marbella (Málaga) Erre & Urrechu (reopens on April 30).

Urrechu attends to Efe in the kitchen, to which he has dedicated 34 of his 50 years, with Martín Berasategui, in France and later on his own. Now he is the new co-owner of Zalacaín and In Zalacaín, his event space.

They first went for In Zalacaín because this business group wanted to expand business with events and celebrations. “Then Zalacaín came fluid; we were out of time but the law protects you as long as the offer improves the existing one,” he explains.

Curiously, this Gipuzkoan who defines himself as “a born worker and a person who eats life in bites”, began working as a cook in 1987, the year in which Zalacaín achieved his third star.

“Every time I have celebrated something in Madrid it has been in Santceloni -now closed- or in Zalacaín. You knew that never, and I never emphasize, disappointed, that you were going to live a wonderful experience, with a spectacular room service,” he recalls.

In 2017, the then owners undertook a reform to modernize it. Urrechu thinks that some aspects of the solera and the essence of Zalacaín were lost: “It’s not that I didn’t like it, but the staging was different. That’s why we’re going to make it return to that decoration that we all have in memory”, announces.

The man from Gipuzkoa will be in charge of the kitchen “with the illusion of a child” and as second will have Jorge Losa, who has been in the restaurant for 24 years. “When I was head chef at El Amparo, Jorge asked me for a job; I had the full brigade but I recommended it to other restaurants. He thanked me and still remembers it today. He sows and you will reap,” he says.

With him and from “respect and responsibility”, Urrechu wants to “relive the best years of Zalacaín, return to the most authentic Zalacaín” from mid-June.

He says that he cannot serve dishes from 50 years ago: “Some will stay, others will be updated in presentation or lightening the recipe and in others I will put my professional essence. It is a quite interesting ‘coupage’ in techniques and dishes. We will maintain the cult of the raw material and exquisite customer service “.

At its peak, Custodio López Zamarra was in charge of the winery and José Jiménez Blas was the director of the restaurant; the incumbents of these positions are not yet decided. “We will see the best pieces we have; if they are in the house, they will have the responsibility, if we have to evolve one more point we will draw on the best professionals because the union of Zalacaín, which is gastronomic history, and Grupo Urrechu deserves it.”

As for In Zalacaín, they are going to activate their commercial network, but Urrechu does not believe that they can organize events “until September” due to restrictions due to the pandemic.

The “family” of the Urrechu Group, up to now of 172 people, has grown with 39 in the restaurant and nine in the events area. “We substitute the antiquities of the personnel because if Zalacaín has arrived where it has arrived it is by the spirit of its workers”, he points out. They endorsed the winning bid.

The goal is not to achieve Michelin stars or Repsol suns, says who will put all his effort and know-how in the client: “That they love the food, the room service, the place … The recognitions will come or not, but yes you do it well everything is coming “.

“I want to give back to Madrid a large part of what it has given me, my houses (that’s how it refers to its restaurants), my wife and children. And I want it not to miss a historic one. If it had not won our offer, it would continue to be a customer of Zalacaín, “he says.

Pilar Salas

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