Asia and Spain, Hand in Hand
Text: Rodrigo García Fernández /©ICEX
Translation: Jenny McDonald /©ICEX
Image: Spanish chef Alberto Chicote
Happiness. This is what Alberto Chicote seeks in his cuisine. "I want my customers to be happy, to leave the restaurant feeling contented". Without artifice or unnecessary complications. This Madrid-born chef, born in 1968, made his name at the NoDo restaurant first, then at Pan de Lujo, both of them in the Spanish capital. And it is there that he exercises his creativity in crossover Oriental-Mediterranean cuisine.
Alberto studied at the Casa de Campo Hospitality School in Madrid and learnt his trade from Luis Irízar at the Hotel Alcalá and from Toñi Vicente at her first restaurant, Sibaris, in Vigo (Galicia). He worked in Switzerland for two years and on his return to Madrid, he was taken on in two leading kitchens, La Taberna de Liria and El Cenador de Salvador.
With the change of the century, he accepted an offer from entrepreneur Benjamin Calles to work on crossover cuisine between Oriental (mostly Japanese) and Mediterranean styles, and participated in the opening of NoDo. After their success with the Madrid public, this manager-chef team set up Pan de Lujo, their second culinary establishment in the city.
Apart from top-quality ingredients, this chef stresses two important aspects: the degree of cooking, and salt. He is also interested in the harmony between the dish and what goes with it. He always remembers the advice given him by his teacher Salvador Gallego: "Sacrifice your stomach before your pride". That is, taste, taste and taste again. Not a single ingredient or part of a dish can be allowed to turn out any less than perfect, so a constant watch must be kept over all sauces and garnishes.
In March 2012, Alberto Chicote announced that he was venturing out on his own to get involved in new professional projects without Benjamin Calles, his business partner for many years. Chicote started in 2012 to be a TV star chef thanks his appareance in Spanish version of TV show Kitchen Nightmares. And in 2014 he opened a new restaruant in Madrid, called Yakitoro. Though the menu is inspired by traditional Japanese yakitori (brochettes), cooked on grills in-view of customers, this Madrid restaurant takes traditional Spanish culinary concepts like patatas bravas and cocido madrileño and, essentially, grills them on a stick.