Renovating Madrid Traditions
Text: Rodrigo García Fernández /©ICEX
Translation: Jenny McDonald /©ICEX
Photographer: Spanish chef Mario Sandoval
Updated Madrid cuisine. These are the three words used by Mario Sandoval to describe his work at the Coque restaurant, located in the small town of Humanes on the outskirts of the capital. Sandoval is one of the few chefs who has tried to bring culinary prestige to the Community of Madrid on the basis of local tradition. He is clear about what he wants to reflect in his creations - Madrid cuisine, taking its inspiration from traditional products but treated in a creative, avant-garde, artistic way.
This is what Sandoval offers at Coque, named after his grandfather who set up, and received acclaim for, an eating house in Humanes. It was inherited by his daughter Teresa Sandoval, mother of Mario. She ran the establishment while bringing up her four children, all of whom are now involved in the business. Rafael, aged 37, gave up his profession as a bullfighter when he married, and became the sommelier. José Ramón, 34, is a football trainer and a master at the grill. Juan Diego, 31, has construction companies and serves as maître. And the youngest, Mario, 26, is the talented early learner who brought a culinary revolution to this delightful family.
After studying at Madrid Hospitality School, Mario worked at several restaurants while attending Cordon Bleu courses, with teachers including Salvador Gallego, Juan Mari Arzak Pedro Subijana and Ferran Adrià. He then took over the reins at Coque.
Mario Sandoval's early vocation brought him his first Michelin star at the age of just 26, and one year later he won the Spanish Chefs Championship, qualifying him to represent Spain at the Bocuse d’Or. The menu he presented clearly took its inspiration from Dalí.
His working philosophy can be summarized as follows: "I want to create dishes with identity, origin and balance, dishes that will be remembered." There is plenty of room in his creations for innovation, the result of his work at the R&D laboratory set up jointly with the Dream Food company and with the support of the Alimenta Madrid Technology Institute.