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José & Team Cook Their Culture at StarChefs

November 2017

What does it mean to cook your culture? Who are we, and what do we represent, when we are in the kitchen?

José and two of his long-time collaborators, Creative Directors Aitor Lozano and Ruben Garcia, presented their own pasts to the crowd at the 2017 StarChefs International Chefs Congress. They all worked at one time at elBulli, the legendary Spanish temple of avant-garde cooking helmed by Chef Ferran Adrià and his brother Albert, and the lessons they learned there - and their upbringings in Spain - have deeply influenced their culinary identities.

Chef Ruben, who leads development at the two Michelin-starred restaurant minibar, spoke about his early days in the United States, and about his decision to lay down roots in his adopted country. Chef Aitor leads the way for José's West Coast restaurants, including é, and talked about his new project, Somni. The word "somni" is inspired by the Basque word for dream, Aitor told the audience: "This is the American dream for all immigrants, we are proud to be here but we do not forget where we are coming from."

And José, who worked with Ferran when he was still a teenager, talked about how important teamwork is. "We the people" are responsible for the successful group of restaurants that bear his name, José said - the chefs, cooks, servers, and dishwashers are the ones who make it all possible.

The three chefs also discussed the team's next project, a Spanish dining and market destination in New York City. José is collaborating with Ferran and Albert on the market - three brilliant Spanish minds working together to continue the long project of bringing Spanish food and culture to America. It's the Adria brothers' first American project, and brings the team's journey full circle - from elBulli to New York City, with a few stops in between.

To read more about the chefs' take on cooking their cultures, check out this interview at StarChefs.